WEST MANCHESTER — West Manchester Village Council discussed online bill pay procedures and funding for the village fire department at its monthly meeting, Monday, Feb. 17.
Village Fiscal Officer Leslie Evans raised the topic of enabling residents to pay utility bills online. Evans indicated she’d been exploring web-based services that would provide that functionality.
Mayor Bob Long agreed that providing this convenience to the people of the village was an important consideration.
“We’ve been talking about that for a long time, and it’s one of those areas where we kind of need to catch up with the real world,” Long said.
Evans also asked for funds to update the village’s first aid kits. Village solicitor H. Steven Hobbs took it a step further, suggesting that the village invest in automated external defibrillators for the council meeting room and other locations.
Though an AED unit is currently kept aboard the village’s fire truck, Hobbs indicated there might be situations where additional units would come in handy.
“What if you’re out on a call and somebody goes down during a meeting?” Hobbs asked. Hobbs also suggested that council members should attend CPR training.
Village Fire Chief Dale Baker asked the council to approve the hiring of two new firefighters, which they agreed to do pending the candidates’ passage of physical examinations and background checks. Baker also asked for funding to send three firefighters, including the new hires, to attend a training course at Clark State University at a cost of $600 apiece. Council voted unanimously to approve the expenditure.
Baker also raised the issue of funding for the village fire department in general. About $160,000 per year would be required to adequately fund the department, according to Baker; but the department currently only receives about $45,000 per year from Monroe Township, which also funds the Eldorado Fire Department.
“We’ve got two minimum-sized fire departments in one township,” Baker said, indicating that typically a single fire department would service at least a whole township, if not more.
Making matters worse, according to Baker, the Eldorado Fire Department doesn’t respond to nearly as many calls because it is understaffed, though the department continues to receive the same amount of funding from the township.
Officials have been trying to convince the two departments to merge for 20 years, according to Hobbs, but their latest effort failed, resulting in several personnel deciding to leave the Eldorado Fire Department. Hobbs indicated that the department’s funding is irrelevant if they remain unavailable to respond to calls.
“They can have the prettiest gold-plated fire trucks, and it doesn’t matter if they don’t roll out,” Hobbs said.
Council signed an agreement that will extend the fire department’s current contract with Monroe Township until Feb.29.
West Manchester VIllage Council meetings take place the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the village fire station, located at 200 S. Main St.