University Heights has funds to purchase a new ladder truck
University Heights taxes are among the highest in Ohio. We pay these taxes because we expect excellent city services from our elected officials in return.
I believe the most critical services for our densely populated city are our safety forces: fire, police and EMS. Mayor Susan Infeld wears a second hat as safety director for University Heights. In that role, she ensures that our fire department has current equipment and trucks.
Our fire department has an aging ladder truck, and I believe our high taxes warrant the purchase of a Rolls Royce-style truck. While our city many not need such a high-end version, for our tax money the least UH residents should expect is a new, fully equipped truck with all the bells and whistles our firefighters request.
In fact, UH residents paid so much in taxes that the fire department had $800,000 left over from its 2016 budget that went back into the city’s coffers. A new ladder truck does not even come close to costing that much. We have the funds.
In 2011, our city saved $275,000 on a new engine truck for our fire department. How did that happen? University Heights firefighter Robert Perko led the department’s firefighters in researching and writing a grant application to try “to help the city in difficult economic times.” They did this on their own time and initiative, and won a grant of $275,000 for University Heights’ new engine truck.
In 2014, Perko obtained another grant for the UHFD, this time for $206,000.
Why am I writing about this? I have heard, unsubstantiated, talk that our elected officials are considering alternatives to a new ladder truck for our fire department. These rumors are hard to believe, but where there is smoke . . .
A few of the rumors regard a plan to patch up the old truck; another regards buying a used truck. Does this mean that cities whose residents pay less in taxes can afford a new truck, and Univesity Heights can only afford a “hand-me-down?”
The most troubling rumor is that we will not replace our ladder truck. Again, this is just a rumor, but I hear the safety director is considering the option to rely upon mutual aid from other cities for use of their ladder trucks each time University Heights needs one.
This rumor speaks to the priority of our elected city officials. Residents were encouraged to approve a ballot to tax ourselves for 15 years for a little neighborhood park, but are officials now actually thinking that they do not have to maintain our only fully equipped fire station?
In her State of the City address, Mayor Infeld cited city council’s “purchases of equipment for our safety forces . . .” I hope council will continue to provide this highly taxed city with such purchases, especially a fully equipped new ladder truck.
I look forward to council supporting our firefighters with the proper equipment and trucks they need to perform their job.
Anita Kazarian, a 31-year resident of University Heights, has been active in many of the city’s volunteer organizations. She wants to hear your thoughts; write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.