|Fire Chief Tidwell|
I attended the recent Public Safety budget hearing—the police, fire, and signal divisions, which take up the greatest amount of your tax dollars every year. The Fire Division under Chief Frank Tidwell did themselves proudly. They always show up polished and well-prepared and are able to answer the questions from council members easily and in detail. This year, the chief pitched a proposal for the East End firehouse near the Netherwood Train Station to be replaced by a new structure. The old station has serious structural issues, including a failing floor that is unable to support heavier modern firefighting equipment.
Under the fire division's proposal, the present building would be demolished and a new facility would be constructed using the bonding authority of the Union County Improvement Authority on a larger piece of land. The capital project would improve firefighting capability in the East End and would be reflected in better ratings by the insurance companies. This proposal would obviously benefit the community, but there are other issues that we need to examine as well regarding public safety, such as how the fire division can be a resource to help meet Plainfield residents' emergency medical needs.
There is also the question of how the mayor intends to pay the additional costs in deferred pensions that are due after she accepted a deferral plan a few years ago.
Next up (on Wednesday): Budget hearings are scheduled for Recreation, Inspections, the Mayor's Office, and City Administrator's Office. I will keep you posted.