$25,000 Added to Budget, Trustee Looks to Outsource Fire Protection

By Stephanie Parkinson

September 18, 2012 Updated Sep 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM EDT

St. Joseph Township, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The St. Joseph Township Trustee is once again putting his fire department on the chopping block.

Last year he said the change would save taxpayers money, but at a public hearing Tuesday on the 2013 budget it was proposed to increase the fire budget by $25,000.

"We don't know what the fire contract is going to be," said Richard Uhrick, St. Joseph Township Trustee.

At the meeting Uhrick said he's working on a plan to outsource fire protection, but an increase in the fire budget has some board members upset.

"I'm uncomfortable that we raised the fire budget when there was urgency expressed by you (Richard Uhrick) last year of reducing the fire budget," said Barry Kunkle, board member.

The confusion wasn't just with board members.

"Mr. Uhrick has been unwilling to respond to our several requests for cost cutting meetings," said Fire Chief Jerry Lencke, St. Joseph Fire Department.

Chief Lencke says he is willing to cut costs but hasn't had the opportunity to give input on the budget.

"There needs to be better communication between you (the board) and the fire department," said Jeremy Biggs, resident.

Residents are also upset to hear outsourcing could cost more.

"That does not tell me, as elected officials, you are prudently doing your job," said Larry Fisher, resident/volunteer firefighter.

The township trustee wouldn't speak with Indiana's NewsCenter on camera Tuesday but did say he expects an update on outsourcing fire protection by October.

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