By Kristin Bednarski
Goshen Township residents will have an important decision to make about police, fire and EMS services this November.
The township has a 3.25 mill safety services levy on the ballot, and according to Goshen Fire Chief Stephen Pegram, the levy would help maintain what services the township currently has.
“We are in a situation at this point where we must increase revenue or residents are going to have to see significant cuts to safety services,” Pegram said.
Pegram said the township attempted to pass levies in 2008 and 2010, but failed. He said since then they have continued to cut costs, including reducing the number of full-time staff by five people.
“At the end of the day we’re still running at a deficit in safety services,” Pegram said.
He said they have had to use emergency fund money to sustain their operations.
“Fire and EMS have been lucky enough to maintain services,” Pegram said. “But we’re doing it with more volunteer and part-time people.”
Pegram said the police department, on the other hand, has seen a significant reduction in services. He said there are shifts where only one officer is on duty.
“A lot of residents have been getting frustrated when they call,” Pegram said. “Waiting upwards of several hours.”
Pegram said the services they are offering residents are not the best, and revenue needs to increase for the township to even maintain what they have.
“We’re really in a difficult situation,” Pegram said. “Nobody likes to raise taxes, but I can say we haven’t raised taxes in 10 years. We have made all the cuts we can.”
Pegram said the last time the township passed a levy for safety services was in 2002. He said the 3.25 mill levy would cost homeowners about $8 per month for a home valued at $100,000.
Pegram said the levy could generate around $750,000 and would be split between the police and fire departments.
“Our goal is to have enough money to sustain the current level of operation,” Pegram said. “With a community our size, we can’t afford to start hiring back vacant positions.”
Pegram said if they levy does not pass, they will have to continue to make cuts. He said cuts would likely include additional staff because staff accounts for around 80 percent of the budget.
Pegram said more information about the levy is available at www.safegoshen.com.