LOWELL | The Town Council on Monday approved creating a slot for Lowell's first municipal firefighter contingent on funding the town receives from the new Lake County income tax.
Lowell Volunteer Fire Department Chief Clint Gorball said the best answer to a daytime shortage of volunteers to handle fire calls is to make it a paid position. Officials from Lowell and surrounding townships have recently been discussing how to combat the shortage.
While Councilman Phillip Kuiper, D-4th, said the job description is still a "work in progress," he said the person would be a town employee with benefits. The position will answer calls, complete certain maintenance tasks and conduct fire inspections.
Based on the Lowell Police Department pay scale, the position would receive $44,345 plus benefits for a total of $74,596, Gorball said. The full-time position would be for 50 hours a week from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Councilman Robert Philpot, R-2nd, opposed the idea.
He said the person in the position would undoubtedly serve residents beyond the town. The town should subsidize that, Philpot said.
Clerk-Treasurer Judy Walters said the position has been included in the town's preliminary 2014 budget on the condition that it be funded with public safety money from the county income tax.
The trustees for Cedar Creek, Eagle Creek and West Creek townships also are seeking some of the new county tax revenue for public safety funding. The trustees recently sent letters to county officials and are awaiting a response on their requests.
In other budget matters, Walters said she and financial consultant Greg Guerretaz met with municipal department heads to review their requests for next year.
The Lowell council approved Walters' request to change an ordinance regarding sewer and water connection fees. The cost to hook up to the town sewer system would be reduced to $1,015 from the current $2,015. The water connection fee would increase from $750 to $1,000.
The council also agreed to create a sewer collection fund to pay for an eventual interceptor sewer line project.
Walters said a public hearing on the 2014 budget is set for Sept. 23.