How will the five be funded?
To the Editor,
The date was November 12, 2002. The City of Weirton mayor and council dissolves the volunteer fire departments in Weirton. Gone. Over 50 well trained active firefighters, paramedics, first responders, river rescue, divers and hazmat crews. Gone were the million dollars in fire trucks, rescue vehicles, squad and support trucks and all of its equipment. Now why do I bring up a piece of this dark history 17 years later? Simply because the Weirton Fire Department wants more firefighters. How ironic is that? Also how ironic is it that Weirton didn’t want volunteers but call other volunteer companies for assistance on fire calls? The city had everything they needed at no cost, and they got rid of it. How ironic is it that a council member who voted to rid the city of volunteers in 2002, is now faced with the burden of funding new firefighters in 2019? How ironic is it that The Weirton Daily Times, in 2002 commented in “our opinion” column that the volunteers need to just move on and join other departments, but now say that more firefighters means better protection for its citizens. Wow!
Five new recruits for $680,000 is a lot of money. What does that include exactly? What type of work week, overtime, benefits, pension, training, turnouts, equipment, and the list goes on. Our mayor doesn’t sound too concerned, in fact he said he is optimistic, (hopeful of the future) with new business coming into Weirton. I on the other hand am realistic, (accepting things as they are in fact and not making decisions based on unlikely hopes for the future). I do notice new business coming to Weirton, but I also see business leaving Weirton. I don’t believe that enough business can come to Weirton and generate enough taxes to support $680,000. So who will foot the bill? The citizens of Weirton. We will be taxed more to offset the cost.
I’ve known Chief Shumate for years. He has always been proactive in the fire service and is deserving of being chief. It’s obvious that he wants the best for his department and his community. I expect nothing less from him. As for the mayor, I don’t know him personally, but like me, he is a small business owner. I respect that because it’s not easy. If the city can find a way to “fund the five” without taxing its citizens, then I support it. If funding can’t be found and raising taxes is the only option, then I vote nay! All in favor?