NEWTOWN >> A petition has been launched on the website, Change.org, to “Keep the Newtown Fire Company in Newtown Township.”
The petition, signed by 242 as of Monday morning, is in response to a proposal by township manager Kurt Ferguson to discontinue the township’s relationship with the all-volunteer Newtown Fire Association beginning in 2018.
Instead, he advocates that the township create its own volunteer force to supplement the township’s Emergency Services Department, which already operates on a part-time schedule during the week.
“We have one year remaining in our agreement with the Newtown Fire Association and I’m recommending that it not be renewed,” Ferguson said in prepared remarks to the supervisors during a budget presentation on Oct. 15.
Currently, the township has earmarked $170,000 in the 2016 general fund operating budget for the NFA and the same amount is proposed for the next fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2017.
But then, according to the township manager, all financial ties would be cut after the two-year agreement expires.
“I’m recommending that the township in 2017 begin creating and building its own volunteer fire company that would work in conjunction with our full-time Emergency Services Department beginning in 2018,” Ferguson proposed.
“I believe that this fundamental change is a better model for the township moving forward,” he continued. “This move makes sense from the perspective of volunteer coordination, regional cooperation, institutional partnerships and economic realities.”
Representatives from the Newtown Fire Association said they will be attending this Wednesday’s meeting (Oct. 26) of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors to discuss the budget and fire services changes, which would eliminate its 127 year relationship with the township.
The online petition reads, “For generations, Newtown Fire Association (NFA) has worked to support and protect residents of Newtown Township and Borough. Township manager Kurt Ferguson is proposing to discontinue the relationship with NFA to create their own volunteer company.
“This proposal is stating that the township wishes to dissolve their current relationship with the volunteer fire company shared with Newtown borough for their own volunteer fire company. This in turn means that the township will have to purchase all new equipment and find new volunteers. This will cause an increase in taxes and reduced man power to protect the township residents.
“The township and Mr. Ferguson need to do what is right for the people of the township and continue their current relationship with the NFA,” says the petition.