The Liberty Township Board of Trustees accepted the resignation this week of a firefighter who explicitly cited the negative atmosphere and uncertainty surrounding the future of the fire levy as his reason for quitting.
At its meeting Monday, Oct. 1, the board approved the resignation of firefighter-paramedic Bill Kahler, who wrote in his resignation letter that he'd had enough of the contentious debate. He left to accept a position with the Washington Township Fire Department.
"The looming levy has placed momentous strains and stress on my professional and personal life," his resignation letter states. "The uncertainty accompanied with the aforementioned and a member of my work family demonizing and advocating against my employment, firefghters' safety, and my (family's) livelihood has forced this (change) in my career."
Kahler is the second firefighter to resign while explicitly citing the levy debate, which has been fueled largely by opposition from Trustee Melanie Leneghan, as the reason. In June, firefighter Jeff Larger did the same.
The trustees also accepted the resignation of a part-time firefighter this week. Aaron Sollars left to take a job with the city of Newark. He did not mention the levy in his resignation letter, but wrote, "I have come to this very difficult decision after many conversations with my family."
Firefighter Chalaco Clark said the resignations should be a "gut check" for residents and officials.
"I would hope that the citizens would get the gravity of this situation when we're losing good guys like this," Clark said. "These guys have families to take care of, they have futures to look at, and right now, Liberty Township is not a safe environment to be a career firefighter-paramedic."
Kahler was an eight-year veteran of the department who recently completed testing to become a lieutenant, Fire Chief Tim Jensen said.
He's not the only veteran to leave the department in recent weeks. In August, trustees accepted the resignation of Lt. Steve Lord, who left for unrelated personal reasons.
With its current budget, the fire department typically staffs about 50 employees, but the open positions are unlikely to be filled before voters decide the fate of the five-year, 6.6-mill fire levy at the polls Nov. 6.
Also at this week's meeting, trustees approved expenses totaling about $15,000 to install a gravel driveway at South Liberty Park. The township will be reimbursed by the Olentangy Youth Athletic Association.
Township Administrator Dave Anderson said the driveway will provide some parking for Little League coaches and potentially provide access to a salt barn proposed to be installed at the park site to increase the township's storage capacity.
Trustees also approved the purchase of a fire hose for $4,994. Jensen said it will replace a worn-out hose.