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Dear West Goshen Residents and Business Owners,
As the year end approaches, we are all busy preparing for the upcoming Holiday season and working to complete items on our 2022 To Do list. In that vein, the Township staff and Board of Supervisors are currently deep into the financial planning process for 2023. This month I want to highlight a critical issue relating to our 2023 Budget….Public Safety.
Our local fire companies and EMS agency have experienced an extraordinary increase in service calls this year, principally as a result of hospital/EMS agency closures in southern Chester County. This demand surge has been coupled with the effects of a decline in volunteers (a decades-long problem in Pennsylvania), and increases in responder personnel expenses plus other operating costs. The result is a funding crisis for our Basic and Advanced Life Support service providers.
The West Goshen Township Board of Supervisors has taken the lead locally in addressing this problem. Earlier this year, Supervisor representatives Tina Smith and John Hellman established a Fire & EMS Coalition Team with leadership participation from our fire companies (West Chester Fire Department and Goshen Fire Company) and our EMS agency (Good Fellowship Ambulance – “GFAC”). The Coalition Team also engaged the surrounding municipalities in the same service areas. The forum has collaborated on critical funding issues, better communication and ways of working together, efficiency opportunities, and ideas on improved operational management.
To address the immediate funding situation, the Fire & EMS Coalition-agreed approach for the Board’s consideration in the 2023 Budget setting process includes:
A contract agreement with GFAC for a defined, equitable funding arrangement between all municipalities served, with the funding share based on both population and call volume experienced in particular Townships/Boroughs.
Progress towards a similar agreement with Goshen Fire Company (likely to be in 2024), with an increase in West Goshen Township’s contribution to Goshen Fire Company for 2023.
Consideration of enacting an ordinance for a Volunteer Tax Credit program to provide an incentive to attract and retain desperately needed volunteers for the fire companies and GFAC.
Consideration of enacting an ordinance to permit recovery of some costs by the fire companies in certain response circumstances.
Of course, the Board welcomes receiving input from you on this very important issue, either via email or through in-person participation at our public meetings. We are proud of our first-rate emergency services, as these brave men and women respond to keep all of us, our homes, and our neighborhoods safe. They deserve the attention of their local municipalities to appropriately resolve funding concerns.
In addition, in preparing the preliminary budget, the Board has discussed with Police Chief Mike Carroll and his command staff the need for additional police resources. Driven primarily by (i) the increasing number of residents/streets as the Greystone development in the north of the Township is built-out; (ii) demands associated with the needs of mental-health patients in our community; (iii) the officer time needed to manage the increased number/complexity of on-line financial fraud cases and other technology-related crimes. The Board has also authorized the West Goshen Police Department to hire a new police officer in early 2023. Check-out the News page of the Township website if you are interested in applying for this position and a career in law enforcement. There is no better team to join than the WGPD!
Wishing you all the best this Holiday season,
Chair, Board of Supervisors,
West Goshen Township