SPRINGVILLE — At a special meeting on Feb. 25, the Springville Village Board of Trustees voted to place an amendment to the Springville Volunteer Fire Department Service Award Program before the voters. As a result, village voters will decide on March 18 whether qualifying firefighters will receive an increase in the service award benefit. A referendum on this amendment is required by law, if so approved by the trustees.
Explaining his vote, Trustee Gerald Lohrey said, “I see no reason why the trustees should not let the voters decide whether the firemen should receive the added benefits, in the proposed amendments.”
Trustee Terry Skelton added, “We support the volunteers of our fire department and we should see if the public supports this incentive program.”
The rest of the board agreed, passing the motion.
SVFD officers Dennis Dains, Mike Cochran and Jim Jozwiak proposed the amendment during a budget meeting, as an incentive to help recruit and retain volunteers. The SVFD proposed that the present award program be amended to increase the maximum years earned from 20-30 years. The increase in the number of years would raise the benefit qualifying members would receive, starting at the age of 62.
According to Mayor Bill Krebs, benefits begin at age 62 and cease upon death. The maximum monthly benefit increases from $200, over a maximum period of 20 years, to $400, over a maximum period of 30 years.
The awards program calls for volunteers to qualify for a year of service credit. In order to qualify, firefighters must complete training and respond to fire and emergency calls. Only those who actively participate in the line of duty qualify for the service award.
The additional annual cost to the village is estimated to be about $10,000.
According to the Service Award Manager Gene Heeter of Hometown Firefighters, present service records and actuary tables are used to calculate an annual funding amount necessary to keep the award program solvent. The actual amount invested in the service award fund is determined by the board of trustees.
The current service award program has been in place since 1989 and the annual payments in the last few years have ranged from $60,000-$80,000. The cost to the taxpayer before the increase is 86 cents per assessed valuation.
Village Administrator Tim Horner estimated that the cost of the proposed amendment to the village taxpayer is about 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.