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Tuesday, 07 January 2014 09:12

Small fire departments caught in budget squeeze

(APPLEGATE) -- State fire officials say declining revenues are becoming a growing problem for small fire departments in Michigan. The village of Applegate Fire Department in Sanilac County is one such department. It costs about $50,000 to run the department, which is contracted to cover portions of Washington, Sanilac, Lexington and Buel townships. Applegate Fire Chief Jeff Johnson says tax revenue isn't what it once was and village officials say their share is disproportionate. James McGee is president of the Michigan State Firemen's Association. He says other small departments are having similar cash problems and warns that if they fold, it would hurt communities and could lead to longer response times.