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Licking Township Trustees plan for new firehouse

JACKSONTOWN – There are no specifics yet, but Licking Township Trustees have decided they definitely want to explore building a new firehouse in the near future.

Trustees met Monday morning for their third annual workshop and budgetary special meeting, where they discussed the firehouse and township expenditures during the lengthy session.

“It was more productive than any (budget) meeting we’ve had yet,” said Trustee John Holman.

The need for a new firehouse was a major topic. “We need to move forward with this,” Holman said. He said trustees don’t want a new firehouse that would “only be a place to park trucks.” Holman said trustees would like to see a new firehouse include space for local organizations to meet.

Holman and Trustee President Joe Hart were both clear funding for a new firehouse would not come from the new three-mill levy voters approved in November. That levy will fund 24/7 on-station staffing.

Holman said trustees and fire department personnel looked to the Thorn Township Fire Department’s building in Thornville for an example. He said the Thorn Township facility cost roughly $800,000. “That’s just kind of a benchmark,” Holman said. He said trustees had yet to budget any amount of money for a firehouse, nor have any decisions been made about its design. Thorn Township’s station is a good place to start, he explained. Holman said Trustee Dave Miller would contact a contractor and begin collecting design ideas and the estimated costs to create those designs.

In other subjects from Monday’s meeting, Holman said trustees addressed the budget and the fact that during the last several years the township has been roughly $100,000 over its budget. “We have to manage our expenditures to our revenues,” he said. “I would like to see us come under budget.”

Street maintenance is one of the township’s major expenses and Holman said he wants trustees to arrive at an estimate for road repair this year, but also look into alternative funding, such as grants, and doing more with their Dura Patcher so the township can save on asphalt expenses. “I’d like to see us spend less and a take a different approach to road maintenance,” Holman said.

Holman said Licking Township is “not destitute,” and “blessed” with some reserve funding. Nevertheless, he said trustees must be excellent stewards to their community and ensure the reserve funding remains a “nest egg” for the township’s future and is not all spent in one place. To this end, Holman said the township invested some of its reserve last year and gained roughly $40,000 in interest. “That (reserve) used to sit in a checking account, not gaining any money,” Holman said. It will come in handy, because he said the township would be forced to pay roughly $15,000 in sewer tap fees this year.

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