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  • Unintended Consequences

    My department is on the ballot this November with a badly needed property tax issue. At our fish fry over the weekend, I got hit with the following question from one of our voters: "If you need a new fire truck, why don't you just get one of those grants like 'Hooterville' and 'Gotbucks Township' did?"

    Fortunately, with a great deal of effort, I was able to refrain from screaming. I explained, as calmly as possible, that we've been pouring blood, sweat and tears into grant applications since the program started, without an ounce of luck. I told her we were very frustrated.

    Anyway, the question caused me to consider what effect the AFG program might have on the outcome of our levy. How many of our voters saw the articles in our local paper about our neighbors who were awarded? How many of them will be hesitant to vote to raise their taxes for new fire equipment if they think the federal government will provide it instead?

    I hope that this was an isolated instance, and that my explanation satisfied the nice lady. I'm just worried that others will have the same thought, and we won't have an opportunity to set them straight before they cast their ballot.

  • #2
    3 weeks left in October, plenty of time to get some articles in the newspaper stating your side. Would be a real good time to mention that you have been trying to get the grants but have been unsuccessful.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    • #3
      In a time when people believe that their over taxed and can't pay anymore your only best option is to give the public as much information about your department, your finances, we've been really fortunate on passage of our levies, and I believe the bigest reason is that we try keep the public well informed on how our department is ran, we give the public the best service that we can which in turn gets more support from the public, and we keep our township trustees and village councils informed of our plans, show them how much our guys devote to training, how many runs we go on, how much mutual aid we respond to. We also let them know our short term and long term goals, We also ask them for their input on negative and positive issues concerning the fire dept., which helps us in our goals. By getting the support of the public and the public officails elected by the public it helps out alot on levies. It also helps us out because we let the public know that none of our Volunteer fire dept. recieves any pay for our services. It is extremely difficult dealing with the public, but if you have good answers to their questions it helps put them at ease, also it helps to have consistit answers, so that everybody is teel the public the same answers instead of 10 different answers to the same question

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      • #4
        Throw stats at them: only 1 in 10 vehicle apps gets awarded so you can be without that new truck for a long time and not be as prepared as the firefighters are trained to be, or they can pass the tax levy and guarantee that the department is well-equipped. Grants are NOT a way of running a fire department. Welcome to the other part of consulting I do, bridging the gap between the public and the FDs when it comes to finances.
        Brian P. Vickers
        www.vickersconsultingservices.com
        Emergency Services Consulting
        Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
        Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

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        • #5
          You're going to have a lot of people find any reason in the world to argue why you don't need a new tax. We just went through it and are getting ready to again (last time failed due to some legal issues, ballot didn't even count). We just got a grant for a new truck, so we've got a lot of the opposite you did. What we did was explain that the grants are great, but the department needs a LOT more than one new truck will cure. Then we listed off replacing old trucks, equipment, hose, etc. Buying equipment we didn't have, on down the line.

          One thing about putting a tax out, you're going to have to figure out anything anyone can question or counter with on it, and then figure out a response before you get hit with it.

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          • #6
            This is an example why federal grants are ineffective at funding state needs.

            State & Local governments spend millions each year on obtaining federal funds. The payoff is pretty good, but winds up, in most cases, being on the order of 3:1.

            So, the federal government raises $3 in taxes, and the state/local government raises $1 in taxes to spend on staff & consultants to obtain the $3 from the Feds. So 'the people' spend $4 to get $3 worth of stuff.

            And then you have state & local governments that, instead of handling their own needs, keep waiting for a fed grant.

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            • #7
              This is an example why federal grants are ineffective at funding state needs.
              Needs, yes because needs in general are long term. Grants fulfill a need, but the short-minded folks spending that $4 to try for $3 are the ones making the big mistakes and trying to arrange their budget around grants. I know a lot of departments that have the funds to buy new PPE right now, but they want to see if they get the grant. Wrong MO.

              If the PPE needs replacing, replace it now if you have the money. If I got burned b/c of gear in bad condition and knew they could have bought me a safe set but chose to wait 6-9 months for a grant award I'd be mighty PO'd. Same reason I told my chief not to bother applying. Everything we came up with he'd say if we don't get the grant we'll just buy it. Finally convinced him 2 years ago that we're not needy enough and shouldn't apply.
              Brian P. Vickers
              www.vickersconsultingservices.com
              Emergency Services Consulting
              Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
              Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

              Comment

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