"Webster has had a long-term plan to build a twenty-four/seven station next to the township hall," adds Kingsley. "Our slow population increase meant it hasn't been needed, but if the economy ever picks up we may go ahead."
Along with merging staffs, the proposed new department would also revamp the way participating communities pay for fire service. Currently, Scio spends about $1 million a year, most of it paid for by a dedicated fire millage. The Dexter department has a budget of $1.265 million, and "all municipalities pay a percentage based on their number of runs," says Dexter village council president Sean Keough.
"That's an antiquated model," Keough says. "A more fair price structure should be based on the size of the population who you're protecting and the SEV [state equalized value] of what you're protecting, plus the number of runs." That's how the new, consolidated department would figure out who pays what.
"We won't really know the real cost until we have it up and operating and the budget gets stabilized," Kingsley acknowledges. But for Dexter village, says Keough, "it's projected the cost for service will go down slightly because there's a higher population and more property to protect outside of the village than in." Rider believes the impact on Dexter Township will be minimal, while Clark says Scio's cost may be "moderately more" if they consolidate.