The Smithville Aldermen Monday night gave their blessing for the fire department to re-apply for a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant, which if approved, would fully fund the hiring of two firefighters for up to two years at no costs to the city.
The city applied for the grant last year but did not receive approval for funding.
Fire Chief Charlie Parker said he is hoping for better fortunes this time. If approved, the grant would fund salaries and benefits for two firefighters. The city would be under no obligation to keep funding the positions locally after the grant funds are exhausted. "We are eligible to apply for a SAFER Grant. This is for hiring of full time firefighters. That is what we are applying for. We are applying for the grant. It is a non matching grant so it doesn't cost any money to do that (apply). It's for an award period of two years. After the two years, the city is not obligated to continue on with the personnel that is hired. We'll be applying for two 40 hour firefighter positions which is basically what we requested in our budget this year. Its roughly going to be, with administrative costs, up to $84,000 for the two positions. That's for salaries, benefits, and administrative costs. The deadline to apply is August 30. They will probably starting reviewing (applications) in the fall. Last year we got our turn down notice in October or November. It could be anywhere from October on before we know (if funding is approved)," said Chief Parker.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities.
Eligible departments or organizations are limited to one application for Recruitment and Retention and/or one application for Hiring per application period. Volunteer fire departments are eligible to apply for Hiring of Firefighters (Hiring/Rehiring of New Firefighters) and Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters. Ten percent of available funds are set aside for grants awarded to volunteer or majority volunteer departments for hiring of firefighters.
Meanwhile, the aldermen approved the addition of Becky Stubbe and Patrick Edge to the staff of city volunteer firefighters at the request of Chief Parker.
Both Stubbe and Edge have successfully completed their ninety day probationary period and have met the requirements of the department's recruitment committee.
In other business, the aldermen adopted on first reading a zoning ordinance amendment that would no longer require plans for off-street parking in developments with six or more parking spaces to be approved directly by the planning commission. Instead, all plans for off-street parking shall be shown on site plans, under this ordinance amendment.