You can choose to let others make a decision for you and criticize their efforts afterwards or get involved and help with the decision making process. The following presents information that involves the quality of life, safety and costs of a service to our town. A history follows:
A citizen had requested that a list of equipment along with life expectancy and estimated costs be provided for the Apple River Fire Dept. The Fire Chief provided that data along with the opinion that the current allocation, $10,000 annually, does not meet the demand and solutions need to be addressed.
The Town Board under statute 60.55 (1) is empowered to select the method or methods to provide fire protection. Statute 60.55 (1) (b) empowers the “ town board may provide for the equipping, staffing, housing, and maintenance of fire protection services. The Town Board of Apple River selected their method of protection by establishing a town fire department over 50 years ago.
There are a variety of ways to address funding and statute 60.55(2)says we may use one or more of the following:
1) Increase the amount provided from general funds
2) Charge fees based on written schedule for service provided
3) Levy taxes on whole town
4) Charge fees for fire protection
5) Reimbursement by insurance companies, or calls on State and County highways
Additionally the town board could incur debt at point of purchase, rely on grant money becoming available or down size the fleet. Any one or combination of the previously mentioned items could be implemented to address the problem.
The following is my personal opinion and does not minimize or reject ideas that are in conflict with mine. The Town of Apple River is receiving quality and cost effective service based on the fire department continually demonstrating their commitment to the community at large, the youth of our community, and the commitment to training and service they provide. They are diligent to explore every opportunity to minimize equipment cost. I feel they are personally and professionally vested and committed to the safety and welfare to the Town of Apple River residents.
The upcoming budget hearing and subsequent annual meeting will provide opportunities for you to ask questions and share opinions on how the board should move forward. This is not solely a fire department issue or a town board issue, it is a Town of Apple River community issue that is supported by that tax base. Please get involved and listen with as much enthusiasm as you speak so we can move forward in having an effective and caring fire protection method.
Respectfully submitted by Ken Sample 10/5/2017