Carson City firefighters depend on awaited state grant

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Capital News Service
LANSING — The Carson City Fire Department may postpone purchases of new equipment during the next year if it does not receive a fire protection grant from the state.
After the state House approved the grant last month as a part of a transportation budget bill, the Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to approve it and send it to Gov. John Engler.
The funding, which Engler vetoed back in July, was reinstated as a part of a $3.1 billion transportation budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The fire protection grant goes to local governments for protecting state-owned buildings.
Bloomer Township, which is adjacent to Carson City, is one of 62 local governments in line to receive the state grant.
The township would receive more than $2,000 through the program. For fire-protection purposes, the township transfers the money to the city fire department that protects the state-owned building in the township.
Montcalm County has three state-owned buildings: two correctional facilities in Carson City and an armory.
The sum may not seem large, but it is very important for the volunteer department in Carson City, said Fire Chief Dan Kipp. Carson City, being mostly rural, has a small tax base for the budget, he said. “(The grant) is a part of the yearly budget.”
If the state could dip into the rainy day fund during the economic slowdown, the municipalities can do the same, said Matt Resch, Engler’s deputy press secretary.
“We use the grant money for equipment,” said City Manager Fred Brown. This year, the city planned to purchase a new tank truck. “The current one is outdated,” Brown said.
Lack of grant money would delay the purchase, Brown said.
The fire department’s annual budget is about $40,000, plus the cost of equipment.
Within 14 days of officially receiving the bill, Engler must make a choice.He can:
• Sign the bill and make it a law.
• Leave the bill unsigned and let it take effect at the end of the 14-day period.
• Line-item veto the fire grants.
Engler vetoed the fire protection grant together with $845 million in state revenue-sharing payments for local governments.
If voters approve four ballot proposals in the Nov. 5 election, the state will have to spend a lot of money, Resch said. “The governor didn’t feel like he could commit so much money,” he said.
Both the House and the Senate voted to override Engler’s veto in August, but took no action on the fire-protection grant, choosing instead to include it with a transportation bill.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism

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