HUBBARD Fire pact talks go well

Volunteers want to increase their pay per call from $10 to $12.
HUBBARD -- The Hubbard Volunteer Fire Department is involved in some unusual contract talks with the city and township.
What makes it unusual is that the talks are amicable, and there is no threat of a strike to forge a new agreement.
The contract the 26-member volunteer department had with the city and township expired Dec. 31.
The department's budget is determined by how much revenue is generated from two fire levies: 1.25 mills in the township and 0.9 mills in the city. The issues generate between $110,000 and $115,000 annually.
Uses for money
Fire Chief David Kyle said proceeds from the property tax are used to pay firefighters $10 per call. They're also used to maintain the fire station, pay utilities and insurance, and purchase new equipment.
Township Trustee Joseph Gleydura said the firefighters want the $10 raised to $12 per call, an issue he terms "no big deal."
"You're not talking a lot of money," he said.
Kyle said a work stoppage "is not going to happen."
Kyle, who has been chief for two years and a 22-year volunteer, said people are surprised when they hear how low the community of 14,300 residents pays for fire protection.
"Eventually, that [increased millage] is one of the avenues they'll look at," Kyle said of negotiations."They [city and township residents] know what's coming down the road.
"It's not going to be workable in the future," he added, without increased revenue.
New equipment a factor
When that will be, the chief explained, will depend on the need for new equipment, because it's difficult to save money for a large purchase.
"Right now, we're managing," said Gleydura, who is bargaining for the township.
Kyle pointed out that a new truck that once cost $150,000 now costs $300,000 to $350,000.
And, insurance consumes 20 percent of the budget, as it has increased from $5,000 annually to between $15,000 and $20,000.
Kyle said there are no major issues to discuss to reach a new agreement, since the department's budget is firm.
The department had attempted to change the contract to allow for a paid chief, but the city and township wouldn't allow it because of the added costs, Kyle said.
The department, however, would like to create the position of part-time administrator. The request for the position is on the table because the department's paperwork has become overwhelming, Kyle said.
Gleydura said the administrator, if the position is created, would also perform fire inspections to determine if buildings meet safety standards.
The department responds to 200 to 250 calls annually, including calls for chemical spills on Interstate 80 in the township.