Plumsted fire district schedules special vote

BY KAREN F. RILEY Correspondent


PLUMSTED — A special election for the Plumsted Township Fire District No. 1 will be held from 2-9 p.m. Oct. 23 at the firehouse, 59 Main St.

On the ballot is one question: Should the commissioners of Plumsted Town-ship Fire District No. 1 purchase a fire truck and communications and fire fighting equipment for an amount not to exceed $485,000 and the issuance of notes and/or bonds or such other financing relative to the purchase?

If approved, the funding will be used to buy a special services rescue truck and upgraded radio equipment. The purchase will not increase taxes as it has already been included in the $65,000 annual budget for capital expenses.

The company is looking to lease the equipment, past chief Aaron Heller explained. The annual payment on the 10-year lease is $62,000.

According to fire officials, the new fire truck is needed to replace the two 1986 vehicles that the district currently uses. The one mini-pumper light rescue vehicle has limited fire fighting capability and seating for one driver and an additional firefighter. The other vehicle is a reconditioned mini-bus used to provide additional seating for the firefighters and refill breathing apparatus cylinders at the scene of a fire.

For a cost of $385,000, the fire district will be able to purchase a new truck that can aid in motor vehicle extrication, provide emergency scene lighting and offer needed structural support.

“I applaud the tremendous job that the fire commissioners do in keeping the taxes at a stable rate,” Chief Steve Morgan said. “We are all taxpayers — I don’t want to see them go up, either. But this lease will allow us to purchase much needed equipment without raising our taxes.”

The budget has remained stable over the past five years, Morgan added. However, Ocean County has switched to a high-band radio system and all fire districts have been mandated to upgrade to the new system by June 2005.

Currently, the district is using a low-band system that has caused frequent miscommunications and a lack of service in some areas., according to fire officials. Replacing the radios and pagers will cost $100,000.

Last year, the fire budget was voted down by taxpayers and Morgan hopes that history will not repeat itself.

“If the budget isn’t approved we will have to find the money elsewhere,” he said. “We have cut expenses to the bare bone. We are spending a lot of money each month just to maintain the trucks because of their age and it’s getting to the point where you can’t make too many more repairs.

“I’m a father of three and it’s tough,” he said. “It takes a lot to take one night a week from your family. I don’t regret a single bit of it, but it wears you down a little when you don’t have the support of your town.”

For questions about the budget, to make a donation or to learn more about becoming a volunteer, the fire district can be reached at (609) 758-8321 (non-emergencies only).

Morgan also invited members of the public to come to the monthly commissioners meetings, held on the first Wednesday of every month starting at 8 p.m. in the firehouse.