To the Editor:
What an awful feeling it was to think that there was even the slightest chance that the Liberty Township Fire Department would close due to elimination of its funding.
Having had the opportunity to be a part of the SOS Save Our Services Committee was truly enlightening. Indeed, it was a grass-roots community effort to preserve the department, person to person. We were mostly unable to reach large groups of people: Stating reasons of "policy," the local school district, the large grocery stores and the corporate/chain businesses refused to help us spread the word; citing "politics," many churches turned their backs; we even met resistance from a number of homeowners associations because they didn't want to take a position.
Handing out information in downtown Powell on a snowy Feb. 2, I was pleased at the positive response by many people, but I was surprised that there were some people who still didn't "get it" and, indicating that they were informed, still said they wouldn't vote for the passage of the levy.
Of the 19,717 registered voters in Liberty Township and Powell, I was surprised that only 4,467 voters (23 percent) of them voted. On an issue so important as the potential closing of a fire department, does this mean that 77 percent of the population doesn't give a damn? Their non-vote was the same as a vote against their fire department.
I also had the opportunity to learn about our community's increasing need for fire and EMS, and particularly about the operation of the department. Anyone who questions the value of our fire department must visit them before making statements such as those made by Trustee Melanie Leneghan when she said operating the fire department with a reduced levy will "improve efficiencies and cut wasteful spending without compromising services." Although the reduced levy passed, a crippled fire department remains. It will struggle to be the "efficient and top-of-the-line fire-EMS department" that she would have people believe.
Leneghan focused on the money: In her $633,500 home, she paid $912 in 2012 for a fully staffed and functional fire department. She opposed a levy that would have increased her fire levy taxes by $31 per month (41 percent). With the recently passed levy, her fire levy tax will be reduced by $6 per month (along with a reduction in service) -- a "savings" of $37 per month on a total tax bill of over $1,100 per month (3 percent).
Trustee Leneghan, if you have ever had the fire department respond to your need, you would question whether $37 per month is really worth what has ultimately occurred to our fire department.