In an open letter to residents of the Mid County Fire Protection District, members of the board are encouraging voters to get out and vote so they know what type of fire protection organization the public wants.
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, residents of the district are being asked to approve an increase in the operating levy. MCFPD officials say the costs of providing fire protection are on the rise, forcing the use of reserve funds to keep pace with the demands of the district.
The levy issue was supported unanimously by all members of the board directors. The current board is Charles McElyea, Gary Cuendet, John Baremore, Mike High and Rod Sederwall.
The vote will give the MCFPD board members a clear idea of what to plan for in the coming years. If voters say yes to a proposed operating levy increase, the district will be able to move forward with plans to upgrade the services the district provides. If voters turn the proposal down, the board will be looking at what needs to be cut.
According to board president McElyea, the current operating levy has not been increased by the voters since the district was formed in 1986. Because of increased costs of operations the district has had to utilize reserve funds last year and will have to use reserve funds again this year.
Over the last three years, the district has made cuts in its operating cost to the extent that future cuts would greatly affect the services that the district is providing and is required to be provided to the residents, according to the letter sent to taxpayers.
Mid County Fire Protection District covers twice as many square miles than any other full service fire district in Camden County and operates on a budget that is the lowest in the county.
"Through grants the district has been able to provide services that could not be otherwise provided. However when those grants run out the district does not have the funds to continue those services. We have a professional core of firefighters, which are volunteers and paid staff. We want to keep our staff and not be a training department for other fire districts who can afford to pay higher wages," McElyea said.
The levy increase before the voters of Mid County is a minimum request," the board cited. "The increase will allow Mid County to continue providing the current services it provides. The funds generated will not be used for additional personnel; it will simply help us maintain the current level of service provided."