Submitted by South Fire District Commission members. The Eye welcomes all signed opinion pieces. See also the opinion piece from the Dan Penney, adjacent to this one.
As Fire Commission members, we urge you to vote "YES" on the Budget on Tuesday April 28th.
Voting is from 6 AM to 8 PM at the firehouse on Randolph Road. We believe the budget is a fair balance between our responsibility to provide you with adequate fire, rescue and EMS service, and our desire, as taxpayers, to keep taxes as low as possible.
Consider these facts:
Total spending will increase by just $31,711 or less than 1%.
The budget addresses a long-standing shortfall in the Firefighter pension fund by increasing the annual contribution for the next three years. This is mandated under accounting rules.
The proposed mil rate is a fractional increase of just over 1/10th of a mil. That equates to a little more than one penny on the dollar of assessed value. The South Fire District mil rate will continue to be the lowest of any fire district in the state with a full-time paid fire department, in some cases by as much as 50%.
For your safety and that of our firefighters we are adding two positions and reassigning two others to bring each Platoon to 8 officers and firefighters. That still is only half of the national minimum standard for a residential fire.
Also for safety purposes, two of the 8 will be officers so that each of the two fire trucks will have a supervisor. This will bring us into compliance with national safety standards and allow us to end the unsafe practice of having a single Lieutenant responsible for operations outside and inside a burning building.
Because we MUST have a minimum number of firefighter on duty at all times to staff two fire trucks, we have included an adequate sum to cover mandatory overtime. When firefighters are out sick, or injured, or on vacation, we cannot hold the work until they return. Their slots MUST be filled. And, because we operate with minimal staffing, off-duty firefighters MUST be called back on overtime every time there is a working fire or major emergency.
Finally, as commissioners, we are paid a small monthly stipend of $150, NOT the misleading $45,000 as has been reported elsewhere.
We urge all South Fire District voters to come out on Tuesday, and to Vote "YES" on the budget.
Remember, voting is from 6 AM to 8 PM at the firehouse on Tuesday, April 28.
David P. Gallitto
William F. Gregorio Sr.
David F. Darling
Edward J. Creem Jr.