Thank you to those that sent messages, made phone calls, and came out to the Township meetings to support us. We are very grateful for your support. The vote was held and unfortunately our funding was reduced and 2 of our full-time positions are being reduced to part-time positions. We will continue to strive for excellence in the service we provide to you. Thank you again for your continued support!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Background: The Fire Department
Columbus Township Fire & Rescue is an independent non-profit organization that is contracted by Columbus Township to provide fire protection and emergency medical services. This service is currently provided by a combination of volunteers and paid staff. The paid staff was added 8 years ago due to the increasing difficulty of finding volunteers that are available during the day (an issue that has been seen across the nation for many years now). The paid staff responds to calls during daytime hours when most of our volunteers are at work. The paid staff also performs preventative maintenance and repairs on our trucks and other equipment, which decreases the money we have to spend with outside repair services and shops. Our department was recently awarded an improved ISO insurance rating, which is the culmination of years of improved training, improved equipment, and improved documentation. The paid staff played a large role in this rating and we would not have attained it (and will not be able to keep it) without them.
Background: The Township Government
The Columbus Township government consists of a Township Trustee and the the Trustee's Board of Advisers, all of which are elected positions. The current Trustee is Ben Jackson, and the current Board consists of Jimmy Green and Mike Shireman. At a very high level, the Board is responsible for setting the annual budget for the Township, and the Trustee is responsible for administering that budget to provide several services to Township residents, including fire protection.
At this time, both Township Board members have stated that they intend to cut the fire protection budget for 2017 to a level that will prevent the Fire Department from keeping the paid staff. Without the paid staff, response times during the day will become slower, and it is possible that there will be no response at all. Very few of our volunteers are able to respond consistently during the day due to their full-time jobs. With the exception of Harrison Township Fire Department, no other departments in Bartholomew County maintain a paid staff, and those departments often have either a very small response (1-2 people) or no response at all during daytime hours.
The Township Board members are claiming that the taxpayers (that's you!) are demanding lower property taxes, and they are using that as justification for dramatically lowering the fire protection budget and eliminating the paid staff. Is that truly how you feel? Are you willing to trade fire protection for a few more dollars in your pocket each year? We are concerned that the Board members do not fully understand the impact of eliminating the paid staff. How do you weigh the protection of your house or your family against your property taxes? That is a very challenging question, and one that the Board should not be trying to answer without getting your input. They are speaking for you in meetings, claiming that this is what the taxpayers want. Is it? The Fire Department and the Township Trustee have proposed a budget that would reduce property taxes for the unincorporated area of Columbus Township by as much as 33% without eliminating the paid staff, but the Board is not willing to accept that.
Without your help, we will lose our paid staff and your fire protection will suffer.
Ultimately, our fire department is here to serve you. Our goal is to provide the best possible service with the resources we've been given. We are grateful for a community that has given us the resources to continuously improve our level of service and protection year after year, and we hope to continue that in the future. For 8 years this department and our level of service has grown leaps and bounds by having a paid staff. Eliminating the paid staff would be a big step backward for us and for you.
Hopefully you've never had to call the Fire Department because you've never had an emergency, but if you do need us next week or next year, what level of service do you want to receive? Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please take a couple more minutes to make your voice heard.
What can you do?
FIRST: If you live in Columbus Township outside of city limits, send a message telling the Columbus Township Board that you want to keep your paid firefighters. Just fill out the short form below and click the button to send it. All you need to provide is your name and a short message.
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SECOND: Attend the next Township Board meetings. These are opportunities to see how your elected officials are representing you and making decisions on your behalf. All meetings are open to the public.
- Tuesday, Sep 6, 2016 - 6:00 PM - Public Budget Hearing
- Outcome of this meeting: Click to view article in The Republic
- Tuesday, Sep 20, 2016 - 6:00 PM - Budget Adoption Meeting - LAST CHANCE TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!
LOCATION: The location of these meetings has moved to the Family Arts Building at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds due to the anticipated increase in attendance.
Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, 750 W 200 South, Columbus, IN, 47201
Thank you for your continued support. It means more now to us than ever!