Two of the biggest items on Liberty Twp. trustees’ agenda in 2017 will be to hire a new fire chief and deciding whether or not to ask residents to approve a fire levy.
“It’s the biggest part of our budget,” Liberty Twp. Trustee Tom Farrell said of the search for a new fire chief. “Getting a fire chief in place and making sure that we have that department financially sound for many years to come is a high priority.”
Farrell thinks the township needs to have Fire Chief Paul Stumpf’s replacement on board — so that person can be involved in the levy conversation — before any levy decisions are made, but trustees Christine Matacic and Steve Schramm have said they think the levy decision may have to be made sooner.
The fire fund for this year shows a more than $750,000 deficit and reserves for the fire department evaporating rapidly.
If the township’s budget remains status quo, the fire and EMS fund balance — initially estimated to be $1.1 million to start the year — will be in the negative by $233,439 at the start of 2018.
All three trustees mentioned economic development and a new Millikin Road interchange at Interstate 75 as priorities for 2017, saying money will be spent this year to get the interchange project moving.
“The Millikin Road interchange to me is the most important thing for us long term,” Schramm said. “It kind of opens the gateway to our future growth and without it we’ve really got a problem with our whole northeast quadrant not being accessible. That’s our major business growth corridor and we’ve got to find a way to get there.”
The first major hurdle is getting the state government to sign off on a certificate of need, which Schramm said he is “optimistic” that the certificate will be forthcoming.
Farrell said starting to put bricks and mortar to their long-range facilities plan will also commence this year with the public works facility expansion on Princeton Road.
“It is definitely a priority,” Farrell said. “We spent a lot of money on the facilities plan and I believe we’ve done it the right way, many people do it one at a time. We were able to take all of the facilities for the foreseeable future and get a plan together for each one of them. We did all the groundwork now it’s time to start our execution.”
Matacic agreed it is time to take all of the planning they have been doing on a myriad of issues — like facilities and Millikin and other road work and projects — and put it to use.
“It’s kind of the whole umbrella approach this year,” she said. “Taking all the planning we have done up to this point and implementing these things.”
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