Tuesday, March 10, 2009


PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BRIGHT FIRE DISTRICT- 9 March 2009 at Bright Christian Church

Present: Thompson, President, Hughes, and Orschell.

Also present: Pickens, Auditor and Dave Wissman, Sheriff’s Office [Wissman was available due to the use of private facilities.]

Please note: There is an audio file approximated 1:35 in length with a direct link noted on the blog courtesy of theflypod.com for a complete record of this meeting. There were between 800 and 1000 people present. The church holds about 1000- not all seats were filled, but there were many standing in the back also. Citizens Against New Taxes provide information flyers and buttons at the entry to the church. They also had signs announcing the meeting around Bright. The Fire Dept brought fire trucks and had numerous volunteers in uniform at the meeting. Other fire depts. covered for them during the meeting.

43 people signed up to speak. (I apologize for any misspellings of names!)

Chief Gary Theurer gave a 15-minute introduction of their plans and current status of the district’s finances. This was essentially the same talk he gave at Commissioner’s meeting in January and in later February. He did add that he would not be the fire chief of the new district. He did not explain that. He said they were self-imposing some other ways to cut expenses, like garbage pick-up, phones, training, and alpha pagers. He said the collected fees Bright residents all pay in the county do not come back to Bright- they are earmarked for the cities and towns and library and school districts. He said there would be capital expenditures on station 2 and a new one to be built in the new budget. That was in addition to the equipment and personnel costs of $1.9 million the first year. They are currently running a $0.5million business run by volunteers. In the 2010 tax bill there will be a 30% reduction and the township taxes will drop off. Property taxes of $675,000 would go to the district. Those taxes used to go to the cities, towns and schools.

Theurer added to answer some questions they’d heard: The Red Suburban that he drives came from Lawrenceburg for $1.00. The white Command car came from Aurora for $1.00. Firemen don’t sit around and play cards. Hiring full timers will be by federal guidelines. All property will belong to the district and oversight will be by the Fire Trustees appointed by Commissioners from each township. They will not be members of the fire dept.

Jeff Peters- Finance consultant for the district. The dept is giving you advance notice for what will happen in 2012 Vehicle excise taxes and property taxes will now come to Bright in 2012 if this passes.

Mike Cushman- FD member- we don’t have the head count for volunteers. It takes 50 hours of basic training. EMT takes 220 hours. If 1/3 of the people would step up to volunteer- I have 50 applications here if people want to. It took 18 people to cover a head on collision this weekend. It takes 80 hours of my time to help with community festival.

Tom Cottingham- Harrison Township Trustee- representing his township and Myrtle White and Art Little’s Township also. They have all had calls. NO ONE IS AGAINST THE FIRE DEPT. But they are all against the tax. All respect the fire dept. and members. We are here to reflect our citizens’ comments to you.

Dave Shearing - from fire dept. – I’m and EMT – NOT a paramedic. People think we have paramedics- we don’t. We bandaid you and transport you. It takes us 25-30 minutes to get there because we are coming from home as volunteers. Doesn’t like the signs with circle slash over the FD- it says you are against the fire dept. [NOTE: It is over fire DISTRICT not Dept. as explained by a sign owner.]

Dale Lutz- The commissioners could have created the FD by the stroke of a pen- I’m commending you for not doing that and having a public hearing. Thanks to FD, EMS, and the church also. The chief said 2009 and not 1959 at the last meeting. Bright and the fire dept have far better equipment than in 1959. We are a bedroom community with no industry to support this. I’d like to stay on our family farm. There are foreclosures, tax sales, etc. The economic times are bad now. There are 14 in a class and only one remains. That tells me there is an internal problem. Lutz was cut short and ended with saying- we need to be like Barney Fife (Mayberry, USA) and just nip this in the bud.

Dr. Steven Page- FD member- I responded to 240 runs /year. The reason one remained of 14 is due to burnout. Getting toned out night after night and going to work the next day doesn’t work. Saw a 16-year-old girl die—never want to do that again. Wants to be ALS – want to take people to cath lab and not the hospital or PAC center. Want to take to stroke center or to Children’s or UC for trauma. Air Care doesn’t always fly. Community should step up and help us with this.

Capt Mark Gillespie- 10-years on the FD and Captain of Station 1. Addressing Dale Lutz- we didn’t create this problem. We didn’t build the homes, sell the land, or sell the homes. FD was egged last week- don’t know why. I received 2 calls at the firehouse for facts – why didn’t all these people call?

Sammy Gutzwiller- one of those who sell real estate and people like it when we get them a large profit on their homes. 64 years in the county and over 30 in HVL- am a progressive person. BUT this FD is just too much money too quick. Wanted the FD to come to the communities before spending money on studies. Economic issues also. Too much money too quick.

Linda Mitchell- 40 year Bright resident by next month. We donated our family home for fire training to be burned down. On 4 separate occasions I went to the fire dept to get them to speak out against high-density development. Same issues with the schools and increased taxes. The FD didn’t cause the problem, but they didn’t prevent it either.

Kent Keller- ( already covered )

Mike Hankins- 25 year resident. Support the Fire Dept. but am opposed to the Fire District. This is the worst possible time to do this. Perhaps we should incorporate Bright and do it that way.

LaVerne Kolb- came here 55 years ago as a new bride. Worst time to do this. Foreclosures. Note the caps on property taxes are caps on increased assessed values. Also consider the farmer’s equipment and businesses will be at 3% cap. We will drive these people out of business. People will be driven out of their homes and farmers will not be here to produce food. Maybe if the economy improves.

John Edgerton- I called all 3 of you and I thank you for standing up for all of us.. We need FD and EMS. Thanks to you for volunteering. We feel like this snuck up on us and wish I could find a better word for this. Luckily you 3 commissioners stopped this. Money is being pulled from too many places to do this now. The process should have been done differently.

Elizabeth Imhoff- already covered.

Carl Strathman- went thru the ISO ratings and as an insurance man said that this won’ really affect your insurance rates much. Commended the FD- but this was just not handled well.
James Wilson Jr.- said he had a letter from Tom Knollman ( state rep) talking about tax caps again. The current assessment is going up 14% per Cary Pickens. Yes you need money and I’d give it to you if I had it- but I don’t.

Shawna Keller- came from Hamilton County. Came because of the community that comes together. Why let developers run the county, when no one is there for us. We should have a paramedic. Harrison responds to our calls at times. If we don’t have enough volunteers, then how come you have them in your plans? [NOTE Thuerer said paramedics are in the plan]

Paul Ravenna- I have assign and I want to clarify it is against the Fire DISTRICT and not the Dept. I want us all to sit down and come up with a plan for everyone.

Greg Gavin- was on the FD for 15 years- from a state report we had 269 fire runs in 2007 and a 10% decrease to 246 in 2008. We are budgeting for 450 runs- and he’s curious as to where the numbers are coming from. I see a lot of past members here. I wonder why they are past members I commend the FD- if this is such a great thing- why not educate the public?

Lisa Taylor- I am undecided- Thankful for the FD- am an implant and not here many years. This is the right cause, but the wrong time. I want cold hard facts- how many runs, why do you need this? Give me cold hard facts and I will give you cold hard cash.

Ray Wagner- former chief- was in the FD for years In the 1980s this was brought up- but we couldn’t tax the people this much. What is the leadership thinking? Across the land no one knows what will happen. I was raised in an era of needs or wants. I hear we want new equipment etc. The solution is to call for a vote of confidence and vote out eth present leadership.

Sue Garrison- single parent – no one wants to pay more. But we can’t get the milk for free. I work an hour form home and my 11-year-old daughter had to call 911 when my son passed out. What happens in 2013. When they can’t operate any longer- what will we do?

Julie Sipple- had a gas leak at home. Have a grandson coming soon. Safety of home, family and neighbors is desired. Am a teacher- not much money- but we have to consider safety.

Randy Lutz- 25-year landowner in Logan. Comes down to one word – MONEY. Health care has gone up. Retirements have gone down. No one has the money now. We just need to find a way to solve it.

Donald Macrillis- not present.

Carl Statman- nothing to add.

Melanie Powers- volunteer came to my home and said a neighbor wouldn’t sign- and he’ll remember her address. Will he remember mine now?

Glenn Richards- nothing to add

Dan Johnson- attended several PC meetings and dense housing was approved. The letters signed by the current fire chief said they have adequate facilities to handle these developments. These are not built out yet and they are already saying they need this?

Vince Martini- nothing to add.

Harold Hall- Senior citizen- I can’t handle any more taxes- unless the county wants to take care of me. They say they don’t need us old people anymore when I went to day shift at work.

Dewey Angel- Asked about mutual agreement with surrounding cities and also about buying equipment with other dept’s to get economies of scale. Theurer said yes to both. Hall also said he didn’t want volunteers whining about missing meals etc. That is what volunteers do. That is my opinion.

Kristin Ketcham- Should have brought this to the citizens before spending $20,000 or more on studies.

Robert Palmer- nothing

Brandy Cosby- Dec 15th- had a house fire- with a 6 month old and a 3 year old. There are things we can’t replace with insurance- photos, mementos, and lives. It took 3 months to just START rebuilding. Fires run people out of homes, not taxes.

Rick Manion- No one is against the FD- Solution is a FLAT RATE PER HOME- like $100.

TJ Jacobs- Has the independent audit reports for the FD. Profits all years until 2007-8. In that one year $106,000 or 44% increase. What happened to account for t eh loss? Chief gives the proposed budget to the board for approval. Looks like the chief wasn’t fiscally responsible. [NOTE: Chief Theurer responded that they started paying EMTs in 2007 to get then to respond to runs and Station 3 built in Logan]

Clara Jacobs- I had a home completely destroyed by fire- I was left with the clothes on my back. The only FD with an ISO 4 rating is Harrison. They have business to support it and they cover the interstate. Do this without this big an increase.

Robert Sinkhorn- has used EMS- hats off to them. We need to get facts on the table. We need a consortium of individuals and transparency. Don’t take it out on the FD- they voluntarily expose themselves to disease and danger. Undecided. Let’s have a process that can share facts- we have a responsibility to one another.

Kyle Luebbe- 29 year life-long resident- support FD and buy raffle tickets yearly. Commissioners and zoning allowed all the development. It won’t be the community we love anymore if we build too much. If we have enough volunteers that will solve it- I will volunteer tonight!

John Scully- I used EMS for a medical run last year- it cost $450. And when transported form Good Sam to Shawnee Springs it cost $1600. Our EMS was cheaper. How can you put a value on a life?

Commissioner Orschell- Would you be willing to fund with more info? (uncertain response)

? Schmidt- 7 year resident. 14 applicants- 1 left. Why? I can cook for you- but am too old to fight fires. Maybe more people need to know what is needed.

Cushman again- People drop out due to time- FD requires every other Sat for 10 Saturdays and passing a state test so study time. Step up and volunteer if we can’t get the money.

Joann Dobler- 5 years- Do we really need all these things? Maybe just charge $100 a year.

Commissioner Thompson- asked for a straw poll- How many in favor of a fire district as stated. (Mostly fire dept and EMTS.)

How many opposed? (Majority of the room)

How many would support something less than this? ( Majority of the room)

Commissioners gave out their phone numbers and asked for forms to be filled out and mailed if they wish to use those.

Meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

No comments: