As Millcreek supervisors begin to prepare their 2018 budget, there's a lot of discussion on how much money must be allocated for fire protection.        

Millcreek is served by five volunteer fire companies, but the resources in those departments are dwindling. It used to be that Millcreek volunteer fire departments could take care of a lot of their expenses on their own. But, times have been tough for those departments, and now they are reaching out to the township government for things that they've never asked for before.

The supervisors received a request this week from the West Lake Volunteer Fire Department for $18,000 to pay for a new roof. According to Millcreek Supervisor John Groh, that's an expense that the department normally would handle on their own. But, fund raising revenue at the five volunteer departments has been dropping, and the supervisors are willing to step forward to help.

The township collects something called a Local Services Tax, or LST.  It's a fund built up by levying one dollar a week from every person who works in Millcreek Township.  The tax collected $1.2 million this year, more than enough to pay for a new roof.  But, the departments are hurting financially to the point where supervisors realize they may have to start paying for bigger things, like fire trucks. Those trucks cost about $750,000 apiece, which would take a big chunk out of the LST fund, even if only one department asks for one.

Groh believes the time is coming soon that the township, with over 50,000 people, will have to have an all-paid department, supported by Millcreek government.

"It's on the horizon.  I'm going to tell you that.  It's just a matter of how far out that horizon is.  How many years that might be.  Is it closer than we think, or can this be held off for 20 years?  I don't think it can be held out that long if you want my own opinion," he said.

One department, West Ridge, already pays firefighters during the daytime hours.  As far as fund raising, only 20% of Millcreek residents contribute to their local department's annual fund drive.