Plum council, fire chiefs agree to new pact
Renton Volunteer Fire Department's compressed air foam truck is in high demand both in Plum and outside the borough.
“It has been to many places,” said department President Anita Maydak.
“It has done wonders for us.”
The truck is designed to deliver fire-retardant foam to put out a fire or protect unburned areas from catching fire.
Maydak credits the apparatus-replacement fund with helping Renton purchase the truck several years ago.
The fund helps the four volunteer fire departments on a rotating basis purchase new trucks.
The fund, created in 2004, began to deplete after about $60,000 a year began coming out of the fund to pay the Plum Borough Municipal Authority for fire hydrant rental fees.
The bulk of the revenue for the fund comes from real-estate taxes that were about $370,000 last year.
In addition to truck purchases and hydrant fees, money in the fund also is used to pay for accident insurance, worker's compensation, loan payments, municipal contributions, foreign fire insurance and tires, Councilman Michael Dell said.
Borough council has taken action to bolster the fund.
Maydak, chairwoman of the Plum Fire Chiefs Association, worked with borough officials to draft a new, four-year contract that gives more money in the fund to each of the fire departments — Renton, Holiday Park, Logans Ferry and Unity — to help pay for trucks and equipment.
Under the contract, the departments will receive an increase in borough funds over the previous contract.
The contract calls for a 5 percent increase in the first year, followed by 3 percent increases in each of the next three years.
The contract runs through 2016.
Borough council last month voted to approve the contract.
Dell, the finance committee chairman, said the stipends that are divided equally among the departments are as follows: $151,410 in 2013; $155,952 in 2014; $160,631 in 2015 and $165,500 in 2016.
The stipend was $144,000 in 2012.
Dell said other new provisions in the contract include finance meetings with representatives from the four departments each six months and requiring the fire departments' finances to be audited by the borough auditor at no cost to the volunteers.
“We will do two departments (every two years) on a rotating basis,” Dell said.
Dell said the new contract with the fire departments represents a new beginning.
“We are starting a new partnership with the fire departments having everyone on the same page,” Dell said.
“All we ask for in return is we want to make sure their statements are audited so everyone is on the same page.”
Dell said the borough is doing its part to meet the needs of the volunteer firefighters.
He called on residents to step up.
“We need residents to contribute to the fire departments' annual subscription drives,” he said.
Dell said about 30 percent of households donate to their respective fire department.
“They have to get their subscriptions up, or we will make it mandatory,” Dell said.
Council members had considered instituting a $5-per-month increase in the sanitation fee, a portion of which would have been used to bolster the fire fund.
Instead, members agreed to use $140,000 from the borough's surplus fund to shore up the fund that projects expenses at $682,961 and revenue at $540,500 this year.
Maydak said about 23 percent of households donate to Renton.
“We go out there and ride through the neighborhoods,” Maydak said.
“We are out there to promote our department, and it's (subscription rates) not getting any better.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.