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Volunteer payment policy passed

Published August 17. 2012 05:02PM

After a lengthy, heated discussion with audience members last month about whether or not volunteers should be paid for responses they make to emergencies outside the border of the township, Rush Township board of supervisors tabled its vote until it could be further reviewed with fire company chiefs in the area.

Rush Township Fire Chief Barry Messerschmitt wrote the policy, and the Quakake fire chief also approved it.

With approval from two fire chiefs in the area, the board had no problem passing the policy at last evening's supervisors meeting in the municipal building, although it went against what some residents in attendance felt about the etiquette of volunteerism.

The new policy prevents any Rush Township employee who is a member of a volunteer fire company or other emergency response group from getting paid if he or she responds outside the border of the township, and it also states that they are only to be paid if he or she is responding to the emergency between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The policy does not, however, prevent a volunteer from responding outside the township, which would be against the state law. It only keeps that person from getting compensated.

During the discussion last month, one resident said, "I don't really think that if you put this to a vote in the township, based on past experiences of time spent out of the township by our volunteers, that there would be much concern about paying a guy five, ten, eight hour's wages. But you're the supervisors, and you have to make that decision."

Board members said that a line had to be drawn. Chairman Shawn Gilbert asked if the township should be responsible to pay volunteers who respond to emergencies in "Delano, or going to, say, a 9/11 attack, to Jersey and paying all our volunteers to do that."

As went last month, both sides continuously and vehemently disagreed on the issue, but in the end this time, the board ignored audience complaints and made the final approval of the policy.

Next, the board passed a motion to change the ratio for what is paid for sewer for the Hometown and Lake Hauto from a 70/30 percent split to a 65/35 percent split. Vice Chairman Robert J. Leibensperger said this was done because Lake Hauto recently installed more equivalent dwelling units (EDU).

A motion prohibiting tobacco use in township parks and playgrounds was passed last evening as well. The board cited child safety, age-based smoking restrictions and an increased chance for getting grant approvals as the main reasons for adopting the motion.

Lastly, one resident stood to thank the board after a motion was passed that prohibits semi-trailer truck traffic from passing through residential streets. Board members said that Global Positioning System (GPS) directs traffic through township streets as a shorter route, and in order for the state to take the routes off of the GPS systems, a motion had to first be passed.

Next board of supervisors meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.

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