EASTON, Md.- The Talbot County Council is facing a tough challenge. It needs to cut back on spending, but on what and by how much?
The council is considering slashing up to $76,000 in funding from volunteer fire companies. The Easton Fire Department is one of the busiest in the county. Soon, its budget could be cut. Other companies throughout the county would face cuts too.
David Nobles of St. Michaels knows cuts are inevitable but he hopes the county does not cut too deep.
"As far as the fire departments, to me that's pretty high up on my priorities," said Nobles, who said he hopes any cuts in funding are kept to a minimum.
A budget cut of any kind could hurt the ability of volunteer fire companies to provide adequate services, especially when a number of their trucks cost upwards of a million dollars. Charles Bullock of Trappe recognizes the council's challenges. He thinks the county should consider consolidating its fire service.
"It's a voluntary fire department; it's not a municipal fire department and all the cities and town in Maryland and across the country have to figure out a way to do more with less," said Bullock.
Volunteer fire companies rely on fundraising to raise money. Easton Assistant Fire Chief Sunny Jones said if cuts do take place, his company will have to do up to three times more fundraising than before.
"Any cut to a budget would have a trickle-down effect, the purchase of protective equipment such as gear, helmets, coats, pants, boots and those types of things are very costly," Jones said.
Talbot County taxpayers get their chance to weigh-in on those budget cuts next week. Two public hearing are scheduled for Tuesday in Easton.