The Orange Township trustees are proposing an increase in our current fire levy to 7.5 mills.

To the Editor:

The Orange Township trustees are proposing an increase in our current fire levy to 7.5 mills. The difference between what a homeowner is currently paying and what the increase to 7.5 mills would mean would be $76.56 per $100,000 of property valuation. That's for the entire year, not per month. That works out to $6.38 per month.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a "menu" situation as some would lead you to believe. This is an up or down vote. We are voting "yes" or "no" to our current, local fire department. We are not choosing which millage we think will work. This letter is not meant to be a scare piece, but the truth is that a "no" vote means we lose our entire fire department. All the experience, training, knowledge and, yes, response time -- gone. We cannot let that happen.

There are few things that the government must do on behalf of the people it serves. Locally, police and fire services rank at the top. I think that people move here and stay here because of the excellent services we provide, not the least of which are your fire, EMS and police service. And I believe that people want to maintain that level of quality service.

We have one of the finest fire departments in the state. They are well-equipped, well-trained and compensated fairly when compared to surrounding townships. Response times and outcomes are outstanding.

For the past six years, the township has enjoyed tax relief by the fire department spending down its reserves. Now, those reserves are exhausted. The department has trimmed, cut back and delayed purchases.

Just recently, a new contract with the local firefighters union was negotiated. In it, the union made numerous concessions, some of which were:

* reduced fire prevention staff.

* reduced firefighting personnel;

* effectively no pay raises over the next three years;

* Phase-out of the employee pension contribution pickup;

* reduced overtime;

* expanded use of part-time firefighters.

Let's maintain our services and keep Orange Township the jewel of Delaware County. Please join me in voting "yes" for the Orange Township fire levy on Feb. 5.

Nelson Katz