SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP -- Members of the group "Supporters for a Safe Sylvania" are celebrating a successful petition drive. The committee recently learned they got a fire department levy added to the upcoming ballot. But they say that is just the beginning.
Sylvania Township provides fire protection for both the township and the city of Sylvania. It has been the target of controversy in the past few months as trustees have tried to cut down a multi-million-dollar deficit.
At first, trustees discussed closing a fire station to make up the deficit, but public outcry made them change their minds and cut positions in the fire department instead. Trustees also cut the department's transport ambulance service.
Over the past few months, thousands of Sylvania and Sylvania Township residents signed petitions to put a fire department operating levy on the november ballot. Now in two months they will have a chance to vote on it. "I think everyone has a right to vote whether they want it or don't want it," said Richard Stiff, a taxpayer.
"It's just a matter of freedom, freedom of choice and everyone having their own say," said Ruth Stiff. Both she and Richard are long-time Sylvania residents, and they support the 1.5 mill, 5-year levy because they believe safety is a top priority. "I know that we need to save Sylvania and without firemen, without the right number of firemen, we probably wouldn't be in that status," said Richard.
Mike Brown is the chairman of the grassroots committee that gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Although he says he's thrilled they made it this far, he says one of the biggest challenges lies ahead -- educating voters. "The 1.5 allows the fire department enough money to bring back the laid off firefighters," said Brown.
He says it will also help them buy much needed equipment, and it shouldn't be confused with another levy. "The .5 the trustees put on the ballot has no money in it to bring any firefighters back," said Brown.
According to the department's Annual Report that's posted on the Internet, the Sylvania Township Fire Department responded to 3,536 emergency incidents in 2005 from its four fire stations. Of all the calls the department got in 2005, 79% of them were emergency medical calls.
On the Web:
Sylvania Township Fire Department: www.sylvaniatownship.com/Fire.aspx