Budget approval avoids Walkerville firefighter walkout

Walkerville Area Fire Authority
The Walkerville Area Fire Authority. (April 19, 2017)

WALKERVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — There won’t be a walkout in Walkerville.

On-call firefighters will stay on the job after village and township officials voted to approve a new budget for the department Saturday morning.

The budget battle in Oceana County has caused a divide among local leaders. Some township officials questioned how the fire administrator was spending part of the department’s money.

Ultimately, the firefighters — who serve the village and three surrounding townships — threatened to walk out next week if a new budget wasn’t passed.

But at a public meeting Saturday morning, a proposal was put on the table — and approved.

Leavitt Township Treasurer David Kruppe told 24 Hour News that the fire department overspent its budget by nearly $22,000 this past fiscal year.

So, the newly-approved budget includes thousands of dollars in cuts. Weekend standby pay for firefighters and the fire administrator’s salary are each being slashed by more than half.

Dozens of community members sat in on the meeting -– applauding once the budget was finally passed. Some say it’s a needed solution in a tough situation.

“We gotta move forward. Any time that you have to make a decision that’s controversial — everybody doesn’t get all they want,” Larry VanSickle, whose son works for the fire department, told 24 Hour News 8 at the meeting.

“You always have to pick a spot some place. And you gotta move forward.”