Firefighters with the Lincoln Charter Township Volunteer Fire Department are shaking their heads over election results from yesterday. Voters passed a millage request to buy a new fire truck, but they didn't pass the department's operating budget.
This means crews will just have to do some budget crunching, but firefighters say cutting back won't be easy, because the department is already bare bones as it is.
"We are the first line of defense in helping people during their worst times," said Griffin Ott, Lincoln Charter Township firefighter.
That line of defense will get stronger with the addition of this new fire engine. Voters passed a capital asset millage request to buy the truck in 2014.
"It's been much needed, we've had a lot of mechanical difficulties with the older truck," Ott said.
The new engine will replace this 1984 truck which is constantly breaking down and has an open cab, exposing firefighters to the outside elements, but what voters didn't approve was the budget involving the operation of this truck. The millage rate to fund the operating budget was defeated by a mere 27 votes.
"It's crazy, we don't have a big budget we have about $200,000 a year as our budget," Ott said.
The department gets its money through the general fund. Any unused money goes to another department like the police. The millage would've allowed that leftover money to stay with the department.
"So an expenditure comes up say we need new gear a bunch of firefighters got their gear burned, we can use that extra money in the operations fund to pay for that new gear rather than having to dip into the general fund or going to the taxpayers again to pay for that gear," Ott said.
"I feel very sadly that the budget didn't pass for the firemen, they provide such a vital service and they give so much to the community that I really hoped that the community would show their support," said Lisa McDowell.
If both millage requests had passed, a homeowner with a $200,000 house would have paid about an extra 50 bucks in taxes each year.
"In this day and age that's a lot of money, it hurts to lose 50 bucks I can't afford it and I know a lot of people who can't afford it, so I would be against it."
Apparently the majority of voters in Lincoln Township agree.
Ott says the department has been getting less money each year. So depending on how much they get in their general fund for 2014, they may have to cut back wages or go to a full volunteer fire department. They do get a small hourly pay for responding right now.