Evart Area Fire Department to host public meeting

Millage proposal to be discussed

EVART -- The Evart Area Fire Board will host a public meeting at 7 p.m., Oct. 21, at the fire department, 109 E. 6th St., Evart, to discuss the fire millage proposal on the upcoming November ballot.

The Evart Area Fire department has been operating as a joint venture since 1983. Over that 38 years the department has received funding up to 1 mill from each of the member townships and the city to operate and fund capital improvements and purchases.

An information packet provided by the fire board stated that for the past two years they have operated at the 1 mill limit, and have been working within its budgeted amount for 38 years.

With increases in expenses and decreases in funding to the townships, however, it has come to a point where there is a need for additional funding.

Over the past several years, the fire board has met with local units of government to look for additional ways to fund the fire department and provide funding for replacement and repairs to emergency vehicles, as well as, upkeep of the building and grounds.

During those meetings, Fire Chief Shane Hemler told the members that with the current 1 mill funding, along with additional monies received from various grants, which generate a total of around $200,000 each year, the departments operating expenses could be maintained, but it did not leave any money for equipment expenditures.

In August, the fire board asked each of the respective units of government to put a fire department millage proposal on the general election ballot, and received unanimous support.

Fact sheets have been mailed to residents to explain the funding and operations of the fire department, and they are now holding informational meetings that are open to the public.

"We wish to put out the information as to the reasons why this was requested to be placed on the ballot and we wish for all electors to get the information needed to make an informed decision regarding this ballot initiative," Hemler said.

The millage is for 2 mills ($2.00 per $1,000 of taxable value) for 6 years, which will help stabilize the funding source to the fire department allowing them to maintain and replace equipment when needed and improve services.

The 2 mills will replace the 1 mill that the townships and City of Evart currently contribute to the fire department budget.

"Costs have risen more than current funding can provide," Hemler said. "The new millage will allow the department to replace apparatus, repair and update the building and provide budget money to maintain operations going forward. Bear in mind our oldest truck is a 1986 international. It was purchased for roughly $158,000 and today, to replace that truck as it sits, is $450,000. Our annual budget for FY 2020-2021 is $186,930."

"That amount is for everything from insurance to fuel and payroll," he continued. "It provides for replacement of minor equipment but there is no ability to replace apparatus or maintain the building without the additional funding."

If you would like additional information or want clarification please contact the Fire Department or your fire board representative.