Sycamore Twp looking to privatize fire and EMS - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Sycamore Twp looking to privatize fire and EMS

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) -

Troubled financial times could mean the end of the Sycamore Township Fire department.

The Sycamore Board of Trustees announced in a letter Tuesday that they will look to contract out fire and EMS services.

Sycamore will lose about $3.6 million in annual revenues from the state which is 45% of their general fund.

A decrease in property tax values adds up to another million dollar loss and the fire department is currently operating at a $1.5 million deficit.

Contracting out services is one of many steps Sycamore is looking at in an attempt to balance the budget.

"We've had a few people comment why don't you cut something else and keep the fire intact," said Township Trustee Tom Weidman, who says there are few other options. "We can't rob Peter to pay Paul because Peter's also broke. "

Weidman says the Township is looking for proposals from private companies to provide fire and EMS cheaper with the same level of service. 

"To the residents it would be completely seamless," said Weidman. "They'd call 911, they'd get some of the same guys, conceivably that are working for us. They would come on the same trucks, from the same firehouse...everything would be pretty much the same."

In our commitment to balanced news we reached out to some Sycamore Township residents who don't like the idea.

"It doesn't seem fair to me that they would make the people working to help us out take a pay cut to keep doing their own job," said Cameron Mitchell.

"You shouldn't have these people out there risking their lives for less money," said Ben Lipsky. "They'll probably have less people trying to do the job, and I just don't think it's a good idea."

Avni Bapat worries about the loss of community.

"It's pretty unfortunate that everything will have to be privatized," she said.

Deborah Wu says its sad that the township has come to this. 

"I feel like these are public officials that are helping everybody and making it private seems like a private interest or something like that," said Wu.

Weidman says township officials have anticipated this for a long time and he says other townships across the state may be forced to do the same thing.

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