In a board meeting that was once again under-reported by the Reporter-Times, the local paper since 1889, the township board met and some interesting things were said and unsaid at the meeting regarding the fire truck purchase and the competence of our trustee. Why actions or statements are NOT reported in the local paper is always a mystery to me. They will be reported here, for all taxpayers to read.
A NEW FIRETRUCK (PUMPER)
Fire Chief Mike was all spiffed out for the occasion to ask the board to vote to solicit bids for a new pumper truck with a cost not to be greater than $220K. Mike Herrington had on his white pressed starched shirt, tie, and "mirror-shiny" black shoes for the presentation. The board voted to seek quotes for a new truck.
According to the Chief, this new vehicle will replace two working vehicles, the EMS truck and the brush fire truck. The Chief also said that they would get rid of (his) the chiefs' vehicle. Mike reported that the total cost of the new truck would be offset by selling the other vehicles and that the cash from the sales of the old vehicles would probably bring in about $40K. However, no one really knows what they will bring until put on the market and someone buys them.
Because the township has a rolling debt fund for capital equipment, the taxpayers are still paying on the last firetruck that was purchased for $328K. Mike reported that this loan will be paid off in June 2013. He stated that since the current tax rate assessment from the current debt will not change when we go into debt again, your property taxes would not increase if we bought the new truck.
A TAXPAYER VIEW
Over the course of the last 6 board meetings or so, several individuals appeared presenting positive re-enforcing statements telling us how marvelous the Washington Township Fire Department is. This usually happens around budget time, interestingly enough.
Questions/statement that come into mind regarding this purchase that were not discussed in the meeting are:
1) If the service is so wonderful, as many witnesses have testified at the board meetings, why do we need new equipment at all?
2) If we swap two service vehicles for one, will the fire department be able to continue that marvelous service? What if we have 2 calls and we only have the one vehicle? Are we then going to have to go into debt MORE and buy another vehicle?
3) Sure, the tax rate will not increase if we continue being in debt again, but what was unsaid is that the tax rate will decrease if we do not buy the new truck and we pay off the old loan.
4) There were no discussions or questions by the board at all like this:
-Are the maintenance bills on the old truck too high? No. What is wrong with the current truck? Anything? Interestingly enough, after reviewing the township financial records through April 2013, no money from the maintenance account has been spent this year to repair old firetrucks. Seems like the old trucks work just fine for now.
-If the township fire service is so wonderful as reported by many individuals in the township meetings, then why do we need to indebt the taxpayer again?
-What would happen if we wait a few years till the economy picks up?
-What happens when I-69 splits the township and the firemen will not be able to get across the highway?
These are the questions that the board has to ask and ponder. I'm not sure why they did not ask or discuss any of these points.
TRUSTEE'S EFFORT AND COMPETENCE QUESTIONED
Board member Bob Bolin drove to all the township cemeteries and did an inspection of their condition last week. Bob reported, "I am not happy! There are no paths cut to walk on, there is brush overgrowing, the grass and weeds are not cut to the fences. The condition of our township cemeteries is sad, and of the last 4 Washington Township Trustees, they (the cemeteries) have never looked worse. I was shocked and saddened at their condition".
In a second blow to the bow of the good ship Scotty Manley, his competence was directly questioned regarding the management of the township cemeteries by a local resident and subcontractor of the township. Hartley and Son has been working with the trustee to fix and/or replace some cemetery signs. See the signs below. A representative from Hartley monument reported that "she was done dealing with the Trustee". After a year of confusion, having her financial capital tied up in the signs, and having to deal with a complete a lack of business etiquette from the trustee's office, a frustrated Mattie Hartley told trustee Manley that he was "incompetent" and that getting anything done through him was pretty much impossible. Looks like we won't be getting those signs replaced any time soon due to the problems with the trustee.
|Hartley and Son high quality cemetery signs.|
A TAXPAYER VIEW
1) Pay the firemen
2) Administer the poor relief in the township
3) Maintain the cemeteries
Paying the firemen is automatic. It is all done by the payroll system and this responsibility is primarily done by the Scotty's wife who works for him in the trustees office. The poor relief is also administered and managed primarily by Scotty's wife, as she is the only person in the office during township service hours.
That leaves one thing left for the trustee to do and it seems that he is failing miserable in this responsibility. Our cemeteries are an embarrassment to all of us. Scotty is busy though. Maybe too busy to be trustee. He already has a full time government job working for the city. In addition, he is getting paid $15K to be the trustee and the cemetery grass and overgrowth are not being properly controlled. How hard can that be?
Nonetheless, it is his responsibility, not a board members', to drive out to the cemeteries inspect them, maintain, them, and make them accessible and pleasant to the eye.
Recently, Scotty and the board awarded a new contract to a lawn cutting business to maintain the cemeteries The board assumed that the trustee would actually "manage" the subcontractor. Think again. There was nothing in the contract that showed any sketches or drawings of the areas that must be maintained and it is painfully clear that the trustee has not visited the cemeteries WITH the subcontractor to SHOW them what needs to be done. Maybe he does not care, or he is too busy to be trustee. Your guess is as good as mine.
MARTINSVILLE YOUTH CENTER
City councilman Eric Bowlen gave an impassioned presentation at the board meeting regarding the future Youth Center in Martinsville. "Too many kids are latchkey kids" he stated and "there are a lot of bad things that can happen between 3pm and 5pm before mom and dad get home if the kids are there by themselves".
He is gaining momentum with sponsors. The financial donation goal for 2013 is $200K. Our children need our help. The children ARE the future. If you can manage to give up one soft drink a week and donate that small amount to the center, that is all Eric asks. We know that you can sign up and contribute. Several businesses have signed up for a small weekly payroll donation and the Washington township firemen will be seeing Eric's presentation soon. If interested, contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 765.318.3039 to contribute to our future.
Recently, the board voted to meet every other month. The next meeting will July 10 in the County Building at 0530. The only question that needs to asked is this:
If the board just cut the number of meetings that they are required to attend, why did they not also cut their pay? How many of us can vote to cut our hours in half and keep the same pay?
Your government working (less) for you!!!