Election night is just days away and in Monroe County, all eyes are on the Fire Levy.
Kevin Galford, Assistant Chief at the Linside Volunteer Fire Department, and Monroe County Commissioner, said, “The fire levy was put in place four years ago it has one year left on it. We’re actually asking to renew it starting 2019 because it will expire. It has helped bring tremendous gear and equipment to these small fire departments that only receive about $45,000 a year from the state.”
The levy failed in the May primary and has been a hot-button topic ever since. Galford said the fire levy had majority vote, but was just under the percentage needed to pass. Now it is back on the ballot and volunteer firefighters are urging the public to get out and vote.
“We’re just asking people to help us help them,” said Galford.
Glenn Walton, a Union Volunteer Firefighter, said volunteer fire departments are trying to teach the public how crucial the levy is to keep fire departments running.
“When we lose that funding from the levy, we can’t do our training, we can’t buy our gear, it makes it really strenuous for us to keep trained, to keep safe, and to be able to cover the community and take care of everybody,” Walton said.
Galford said less funding for volunteer fire departments would be an overall threat to public safety, with longer response times, less manpower, and less effective equipment. He said it costs around $10,000 to outfit just one firefighter, and the equipment has to be updated every few years to keep up with safety regulations.
Galford also addressed some of the confusion and concern regarding what the levy will cost the taxpayers.
“The levy rates have actually reduced, your taxes will be less now than they were with the old levy when it takes affect,” said Galford.
Walton said they have already seen an impressive voter turn out.
“We voted yesterday and we were told that around 600 people had already voted, which is a record turn out for us, it looks to me like today, from talking to some people, that well over 1,000 voters have come out to vote,” Walton said.
The fire levy needs 60 percent of voters in favor for it to be renewed.