South Hutch council members decide to keep city fire department

KWCH – March 22, 2017

 

Part-time employees at The South Hutchinson Fire Department get to keep their jobs, but people who live in the city may be paying more money because of it. South Hutch was looking at an option to remove its fire department to save money. Instead, it will look to make room for more employees to help with the work load.

 

Monday night City Council members discussed the future of The South Hutchinson Fire Department. They talked about adding more part-time employees, getting more volunteers and building a new facility for the firefighters.

 

"I would imagine that everyone is pretty happy," said Shurrie Tucker, who lives in South Hutch. "I've talked to friends and relatives that live here in South Hutch, and none of us wanted it to close down."

 

The decision to keep the fire department in South Hutch came down to an issue of community and identity, said City Administrator Matt Stiles.

 

"There's a lot of intangible benefits that the fire department has," said Stiles. "It just didn't feel like they would get that service in a contractual relationship, and the people wouldn't be or wouldn't have as much ownership as the service."

 

The city plans to build a new fire department facility, one that would allow firefighters to stay overnight. The cost is expected to be 800-thousand to one million dollars. That could mean more money out of your pocket.

 

"It's going to be a situation where we're going to have to look at pretty seriously the budget and where we can maybe make some cuts, but also it is probably going to be a tax increase," said Stiles.

 

He said the city is looking into grant and loan programs to offset costs.

 

"If it's for improvement for our town, I never have a problem with taxes going up a little," said Tucker.

 

Stiles said the new South Hutchinson Fire Department building could be up sometime in 2018.