Local fire departments want to clear up the confusion over ballot question number four on the May 18th primary.
They say that voting yes would give them the funds to protect the community in an emergency situation before it is too late.
We spoke with several area fire departments about this ballot question.
Voting yes will open the state low interest loan program that was created in 1975.
It is aimed at helping volunteer fire departments fund expensive equipment such as turnout gear.
Municipal fire departments are trying to get some of those tax funds.
Evan Kardosh of the Meadville Fire Department said that many departments across the state are on a tight budget.
Approving ballot question number four would allow them to find a low interest loan that would take some of the financial burden off their shoulders.
Kardosh said that it could be the difference in keeping the fire department in their community or not.
“And it may not pay for the whole apparatus or the whole amount of turnout gear, but it gives us a different revenue source to replace some our aging fleet that we really need to address before it is too late,” said Kardosh.
Kardosh said that several of their fire trucks are past their life expectancy including one that is 28 years old. He said that they are lucky none of them have broken down especially during an emergency.
Kardosh also wants to clarify approval of ballot question number four does not take away funds from volunteer departments.
“And I think that is what the big concern is. We don’t want to take away from the volunteer funding and neither do we. We also volunteer in our community, but we also want to make sure we have the same access to those funds that were put aside by tax money that all of our citizens and community have paid into as well,” said Kardosh.
He said that every year the tax fund generates interest. So more loans given out, the more money that is made.
Erie Fire Department is also faced with financial issues.
“We just go out and do what we need to do with what we have. I mean we have always made it work. Sometimes it’s a little tougher than others so we will make it work, but this would be nice to have a little extra money to help with equipment, our aging equipment,” said Leonard Trott, Erie Fire Department Assistant Chief.
Trott said that the loans are per department. The size of the department has little to do with how many loans they can get.
Kardosh said that the average life expectancy for a fire truck is 20 years old. Their newest truck is 17 and oldest is 34.