To the Editor:
In November 2012, over 52 percent of Orange Township residents voted "no" to the fire levy, yet the Orange Township Board of Trustees have failed to listen to the residents.
The trustees continue to operate both fire stations and not lay off employees. This is just not the right way to stretch the funding. The expenses of the current fire department need overhauled. Employees need to pay their 10 percent share of pensions and a fair share of the healthcare costs.
Orange Township has been served by one fire station before and it can be done again. I would recommend that the Old State Road fire station be closed until January 2014.
The contract needs to be completed and posted on the township website now so residents will be aware of any concessions prior a vote on a levy. There should be no wage increases for the next three years. The chief and assistant chief have offered to pay their 10 percent of pension cost for 2013 and firemen must do the same. When working in the public sector, all employees must contribute to their pension and health costs.
Right now, the board of trustees has the leverage to overhaul the funding for the fire department and bring down the costs. They need to make the tough decisions and not listen to what the fire department employees want. Sometimes, doing the right thing for the township may not be the popular choice. Continuing to keep both fire stations open does not make good sense.
The funding problem for the fire department did not happen overnight. Prior trustee boards just signed off on the contracts and did not look down the road. Prior contracts with the firemen should have never allowed raises over 3.5 percent yearly, free pensions and healthcare. I have reviewed previous contracts and cost spreadsheets provided by the township for which I have based my opinions.
I urge all residents to contact the trustees and voice their opinions. We must have an affordable fire department or not have one at all.
Randall J. Meek