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Published: Thursday, 11/15/2012

Fire, road budgets reviewed for next year by Sylvania Township trustees

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

During a Sylvania Township meeting today to discuss the fire department and the road and bridge funds, Administrator John Zeitler addressed the three trustees, letting them know that while cuts have been necessary, quality service will still be provided to residents.

“I think what we've done is a good compromise,” Mr. Zeitler said, after stating that it was necessary to trim the budget to keep the funds in both accounts sufficient.

The road and bridge fund, with the road department managed by Gregory Huffman, has seen its share of reductions of force.

“We've had a significant reduction in manpower over the last 10-11 years,” Mr. Huffman said. He has worked to downsize the number of trucks the department has and has also been able to auction off a few vehicles for extra funds as well.

While he knew the budget was tight, Mr. Huffman said that staying current with equipment was something important for the trustees to consider.

“It's all about keeping in touch with the industry standards,” he said. “When new equipment comes out, it's worth evaluating. Sometimes it's better to continue subcontracting, but we continue to look at the equipment.”

During the meeting, Trustee John Jennewine praised Mr. Huffman and the department for their speedy work done during the annual leaf pick-up in the township.

Projections for 2013 include a beginning balance of about $1,671,728 for the road and bridge fund. The beginning balance for 2011 was $1,705,723.

But Mr. Zeitler was still confident that even with reductions, service would still be maintained.

“I feel that...with these reductions, we can still provide the service to the citizens of the township in a timely manner,” he said.

The fire department fund has also had reductions in staffing over the years.

“We have reduced our staff levels from 62 to 56, so we've been decreasing staffing levels over the years,” Sylvania Township Fire Chief Jeffrey Kowalski said. He said the department has been consistent staying within the budget, but that training costs continue to be a challenge.

“We have Hazmat, we have confined space, we have ice rescue. Those are the things that we provide for the community that we actually don't have funding for. So that's actually a challenge,” Mr. Kowalski said.

Engine repair was also another item that has been troubling the department. Trustee Neal Mahoney was concerned about equipment depreciation. Replacement could be costly.

The fire fund has a projected 2013 beginning fund balance of $2,787,533.

But overall, Mr. Zeitler remained confident. “Services will be delivered. I think the residents won't see very much of a difference. If things turn around, hopefully they will...I'll be sitting here saying we can hire back.”

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.



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