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Apollo VFD #3 asking for financial help

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

The president of one of Apollo's two volunteer fire departments is asking the borough for financial help, while the department and council are watching with interest what happens with a proposed fire tax in neighboring North Apollo.

Lyle Rusz, president of Apollo Hose Company No. 3, said his department is not in danger of closing, but needs help.

“We're fumbling along,” he told council Thursday. “We're keeping our nose above water. That's about all we're doing. We do need some help.”

Rusz said the department has gotten “hardly anything” from residents and businesses in response to its annual fundraising drive.

The response is so bad that last year the department didn't bother to send the letters out, he said.

“It wasn't worth the time and the effort,” he said.

Apollo gives Apollo Hose Company No. 3 and Apollo Hose Company No. 2 $1,750 each year.

North Apollo is considering collecting $80 each year from every property in the borough to support its volunteer fire department, which said it was in danger of folding. North Apollo Council could vote to enact that tax April 1.

Funding like that would be “fantastic,” Rusz said. But, “I know the people in Apollo can't afford it.”

Council President David Heffernan said council won't consider a fire tax unless the two departments merge.

“It would not make sense to do that and split it between two departments,” he said.

Rusz said his department would not oppose merging.

The No. 2 department opposed the idea the last time it was discussed.

“It's coming down the pike everywhere,” Rusz said.

Rusz asked if council could help by not charging it for sewage, letting it use the borough's fuel and helping to promote its fundraising efforts.

“Anything they can do would help,” he said.

Council said it can include fire department information in bills. Heffernan said the council will have to talk more about the other requests.

It would help if residents and business owners gave whatever they could, even $10, Rusz said.

“There's a lot of homes that don't give us anything,” he said. “Whatever they can afford would be great.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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