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Royalton Township Fire Department asks for tax payer support to fund future equipment costs

NOW: Royalton Township Fire Department asks for tax payer support to fund future equipment costs

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich.-- Residents in Berrien County will vote ‘yes or no’ for proposals and other referendums in the May 7 Special Election.

The Royalton Township Fire Department is looking to introduce a millage for fire equipment and to renew a public welfare millage that funds the operations of the fire department.

The $124,000 annual budget for the maintenance and operations of the department is funded by the Fire, Ambulance and Library Millage within the township.

Tuesday’s proposal asks for the renewal of the millage at one mil, or $1.00 per $1,000.00 dollars of taxable value on real and personal property in Royalton Township for seven years.

Fire Chief James Jonatzke says that the department responded to 107 calls last year, which cost the budget fewer than $1,200 per call.

“We have to do truck repairs, pay for the heat of this building. Everything that has to do with the fire department comes out of that budget, and it’s expensive,” Jonatzke  said.

“Our role is ever-expanding as firefighters. We do water rescue, all kinds of things. We have to train for that, we purchase equipment for that.”

The budget pays for 20 firefighters and five trucks which will respond to an emergency, but Jonatzke says that that the life cycle of some of the department’s equipment will soon come to an end.

He says that some fire trucks are almost 25-years-old and were purchased when the township’s station was built in 1995.

Also on Tuesday, the Royalton Township Fire Department is asking tax payers to approve a millage of 1/8 mil for five years.

The revenue would fund future large purchases and replace trucks and other equipment.

It’s estimated that around $35,000 will be raised in the first year.

Jonatzke says the proposal is preparing for the future of the department and the growing township.

“This truck has to work every day. It has to respond to calls, not only does my firefighters' lives depend on it, but my citizens of this township depend that this truck operates correctly every time it goes to a call. It gets harder and harder to keep that truck running at the state of readiness all the time, you’re forced to have to replace it every so often. It’s hard to get parts for them after they get 25-years-old,” said the Fire Chief.

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