Faced with a $1.5 million budget shortfall and citing a failed levy from the Nov. 6 election, Liberty Township trustees have voted to lay off almost half of the township's firefighters in December.
Faced with a $1.5 million budget shortfall and citing a failed levy from the Nov. 6 election, Liberty Township trustees have voted to lay off almost half of the township’s firefighters in December.
Tuesday’s decision could be temporary, township Administrator David Anderson said, but almost certainly will lead to longer response times and possibly the closing of one of the Delaware County township’s two fire stations.
“They need to begin conserving cash,” Anderson said. “And that can only happen through at least some layoffs.”
The township delivered 30-day notices to 26 of the department’s 49 employees yesterday. Anderson said the 26 most recently hired firefighters would be the ones to lose their jobs.
Trustees are considering options that could allow some of those firefighters to keep their jobs.
Trustee Mary Carducci said that one of those options would run the department’s accounts down to levels that are not sustainable.
Liberty Township’s fire levy lost by about 100 votes. The day after the election, the township trustees put an emergency levy on the ballot in February.
The new levy request is essentially a renewal and would set the tax rate for fire and emergency medical responders at 5.6 mills for five years. If that levy passes, property owners would pay about $170 a year for every $100,000 of a property’s value.
If the new levy passes, some of the laid-off firefighters could be hired back.
But not all of them, Carducci said.
“I don’t see how we can support the current staffing with reduced revenue coming in,” she said. “ No one wants layoffs, but as a responsibility to our community we have to sit down with our fiscal officer and figure this out.”