Decrease in Toms River Fire District #2 Budget Despite Rising Fuel Costs and Water Charges
Submitted by Michael Cocco
As a firefighter in Toms River Township Fire District #2, which is made up of Pleasant Plains, North Dover, and Silverton sections of town, I would like to address some of the rhetoric and misinformation that has been put out in campaign for Fire Commissioners. I would like to point out that there have been some blanket statements made by the candidates that need to be corrected. In District 2 there has NEVER been any question of the integrity of the Fire Commissioners or the transparency of spending. A number of the candidates and concerned citizens groups have been to our Commissioners meetings and every question about the budget and spending was answered honestly and openly.
Comparing Lakewood to Toms River is comparing apples to oranges. Lakewood has a considerably smaller budget, that is true. However they do not maintain a training facility as Toms River does in the TR Fire Academy, which provides training to not only the TR firefighters but also the TR Police Dept as well other towns. Lakewood also does not maintain its own radio/communications network and dispatchers. Lakewood has its own water company, where Toms River is forced to pay to ‘rent’ hydrants and reimburse private communities such as Lake Ridge and Green Briar Woodlands for their association’s rental of the private hydrants. Lastly but possibly most important to the taxpayers of Toms River is they do not have a Bureau of Fire Prevention that does the education of the public and the inspections and code enforcement of the residents.
In fact in District 2 the portion of the 2012 budget to be raised by taxes is actually lower than last year, only by a few hundred dollars, but with rising fuel, maintenance and materials that is quite an accomplishment. Also because of fiscally responsible actions and cooperation between the Chiefs and Commissioners, District 2 has not bonded out a new vehicle for over a decade. All new apparatus purchases are planned for years in advance and the money is set aside so that when it comes time to purchase the apparatus the money is there to pay for it and we don’t have to cost the taxpayers more money by bonding the purchase and then paying interest on it for years.
Ken Taylor, Roger “Joe” Brown and Tom McCann are outstanding members of the fire companies that are active firefighters and contribute to the individual organizations every day, they are NOT in any way ‘political machine incumbents’ and have never been associated with any political organizations. Each of them have dedicated 20-30 years or more of their lives to the fire service in the town in which they live. I have put my life on the line with all three of these people and would do so again without a thought. These guys have had nothing but the best interest of the citizens of Toms River in mind for decades whether it is at an accident scene, fire or at the budget meetings.
Your brave and dedicated volunteers absolutely deserve the community’s respect and support, so why would you vote no on a budget that has not increased, and why would you vote for someone other than the men that have given their blood sweat and tears for the community they live in and volunteer in?
Finally I would like to say that I do not condone the special election on the matter of the property referendum in December. District 2 did not use a special election for our portion of the generator for the fire academy because we felt it would be more appropriate to list that question with the regular election questions and the budget. That debacle went down without the support and prior knowledge of the firefighters. As a firefighter and an Officer, I feel that the commissioners of District 2 communicate fully with the companies and give us 100% support. This being said I feel that it would be unfair to lump both districts in the same boat. District 2 Commissioners have the FULL support of the firefighters they represent and have done a great job with the budget!
–voting information –
VOTE TO RE-ELECT
TOMS RIVER TOWNSHIP BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS
FIRE DISTRICT 2 ELECTION
FEBRUARY 18TH, 2012 from 2:00pm to 9:00pm
POLLING PLACES ARE:
PLEASANT PLAINS VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT
40 CLAYTON AVE, TOMS RIVER 08755
SILVERTON VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
15 KETTLE CREEK RD, TOMS RIVER 08753
The Officers and members of the fire companies of Toms River Township Fire District 2 (Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department and Silverton Volunteer Fire Co. make up Fire District 2 and cover the Silverton, Pleasant Plains and North Dover sections of Toms River) would like your support in the upcoming election for the fire budget and the dedicated Commissioners that are running for re-election.
Ken Taylor and Roger “Joe” Brown, both of Silverton and Tom McCann of Pleasant Plains are the current commissioners running for re-election and have the support of both companies. With over 100 years of Fire Service experience between them, these dedicated members know the ins and outs of serving the community and have always had the best interest of the citizens of Toms River in mind, whether it be the budget, an accident scene, or at a fire.
Through hard work, strong ‘team’ mentality and good fiscal responsibility the current Board of Fire Commissioners has been able to hold the line on the budget for 2012. With careful spending and forward looking planning your district is NOT raising the budget at all. The total amount to be raised by taxes for 2012 will be $2,891,277.43 compared to the 2011 budget at $2,891,843. With ever increasing costs of fuel and maintenance this is no small accomplishment!
Support your fire companies and VOTE YES for these 2012 ballot Questions
- The voters shall be asked to approve or disapprove the proposed 2012 annual budget (the total budget is $3,127,176.43, and the amount to be raised by taxation is $2,891,277.43).
ü Fiscally responsible spending and planning by both Fire Commissioners and Fire Chiefs has kept the amount to be raised by taxes level from 2011 to 2012
ü Approximately $125,000 in grant money has been obtained for this year from Grants written by the volunteers not hired out to a grant writing firm- $425,000 over the last 5 years reducing the dollar amount required from District 2 taxpayers
- Whether or not the Commissioners be authorized to raise $289,583.34 in the 2013 budget for future purchase of apparatus.
Pleasant Plains: To be purchased in 2015
Replace a Pumper truck in 2016 $146,666.67 is 1/5th of the $550,000 needed
Replace Rescue truck 3017 a Utility Body – $15,416.67 is 1/4th of the $55,000 needed
To be purchased in 2016
Replace Chiefs vehicle – $13,750 is 1/4th of the $55,000 needed
Silverton: 2015 – Refurbish Rescue truck $100,000 is 1/3rd of $300,000 needed
2016 – Replace Chiefs truck $13,750 is 1/4th of the $55,000 needed
ü Proper planning allows the Commissioners to pay in full for the purchase or refurbishing a truck instead of Bonding it out which costs the taxpayers more money in interest payments
ü Pumper and Rescue trucks are replaced or refurbished, whichever is most cost effective, after 20 years to keep them in compliance with federal NFPA standards and ISO insurance ratings
ü Old trucks are either sold or traded in with the proceeds put back into the Capital Budget to offset the cost to taxpayers for purchasing future vehicles
- Whether or not the Commissioners be authorized to purchase an aerial ladder truck in 2013 not to exceed $800,000.
ü The current aerial ladder is over 20 years old and no longer meets current Federal standards. The purchase of a new aerial is more cost effective to the taxpayers than the price of refurbishing the truck
ü Again because of proper planning over the last 5 years this money has already been raised the board only needs permission to go ahead and purchase the truck- this question is not asking for additional money
4. Whether or not the Commissioners be authorized to make renovations and additions to the Fire Commissioners’ office including a new roof at a cost not in excess of $400,000 in the 2013 budget.
ü In the more than 20 years since the building was constructed the growth of the District has outpaced the growth of the office.
ü This will allow for the expansion of the office area and the replacement of the roof
ü The outdated heating & air conditioning system will also be upgraded to a more efficient unit to keep costs of utilities and maintenance to a minimum
5. Whether or not the Commissioners be authorized to appropriate $26,250 in the 2013 budget, representing Fire District #2’s share of the total cost of $75,000, for the purchase of an emergency generator for the Toms River Township Fire Academy.
ü The generator will provide backup power for the existing communications tower on the property and the facility itself which can also perform as an evacuation shelter in a time of emergency
ü This generator will also facilitate the future expansion of the communications system with a new dispatch center
Paid for by Fire companies of Toms River Township Fire District #2