SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP -- Should fire protection be scaled back in Sylvania and Sylvania Township? That's one suggestion to help with the $2.5 million budget deficit the community faces. And it's a question that had many people shouting at a meeting Monday night.
The idea of closing a fire station and cutting back on the number of firefighters brought emotions to the surface. In addition to the shouting, there was swearing -- and some even shed tears.
Doug Anderson told the trustees, "Now you're sitting here, you're threatening us -- and that's just the way it sounds." Anderson has lived in Sylvania Township for the past 30 years. He and many others packed the meeting to tell trustees how they feel about the potential cuts.
Karen Kohler was one of them. "I do not want my house value to go down," she said. "We're having enough trouble with the economy in this area as it is."
Steve Demascio said, "You people need to act in a responsible manner that is consistent with good public policy -- and as far as I can see, you are not."
Trustee Pamela Hanley says she's proud of the Fire Department, but she thinks it has to be more efficient. She suggests the department can gain efficiency through collective bargaining.
"This is a structural cost issue," she said. "The administration and the Fire Department should develop a plan to resolve this structural cost matter."
One full time firefighter costs the Township at least $100,000 per year.
Trustee Dee Dee Liedel says further investigation into cutting costs should be looked at. But Trustee Carol Contrada proposes a 1.5 mil maintenance levy -- and borrowing to help prevent the projected shortfall.
Contrada said, "You deserve to decide what level of service you're willing to pay for as a taxpayer." That comment was followed by applause and a standing ovation.
But Trustee Pamela Hanley said, "To borrow our way out of a fiscal crisis is irresponsible."
The Trustees will go over details of the budget and talk to department heads next Wednesday, all in an effort to find an answer to the financial troubles they face.
But Doug Anderson already knows what he wants: protection from fire. He told Trustees not to take it away from the people.
Count on News 11 to follow developments in this story and to report back to you.
Posted by PJS