Please vote "yes" for the 7.8-mill Orange Township fire levy.

To the Editor:

Please vote "yes" for the 7.8-mill Orange Township fire levy.

Yes, it is an increase over the current 5-mill levy, but unfortunately, decisions were made four years ago by former trustees to place a levy on the ballot that did not cover the actual costs of operations and relied completely upon exhausting the surplus funds of the department. By the end of the first quarter of 2013, there will be no funds left to operate the department. The department runs off of fire levy funds only.

Some have suggested that surpluses in the general fund be used to cover the difference. Unfortunately, they have not learned from the current situation. When you exhaust all surpluses, you have nowhere else to turn to but the taxpayer. The second and most important reason for not using general funds for fire operations has to do with union negotiations; as stated, the fire department's funding comes only from the fire levy. These are the only funds the fire union and trustees can use during negotiations.

The community can be very proud of our highly skilled firefighter/EMS employees. They are second to none. The township has been very conscious in all decision-making processes to make sure the taxes levied add only to the quality of life of the residents of the community. This is a service the community, be it families, businesses or passers-through, cannot do without.

This levy request is only for the operations of the fire department; it does not propose any growth of operations during its time. It does provide for the limited purchase of replacement equipment when the need arises. No new equipment has been purchased in the past six years, and fire equipment does wear out.

Township residents pay for two township levies: parks and fire. With the passage of this levy, the average cost of these two services is less than $2 per day for a home valued at $250,000. Thriving communities only thrive with quality services. Please vote "yes" for the Orange Township fire levy.

Mark Robertson
Lewis Center