LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There are 17 suburban fire districts around Louisville Metro, but with scandals at some of them and money concerns for many, the idea of merging with the Louisville Fire Department is gaining steam, at least for one department.
After a year in his Lyndon home, Herb Ellis still has a lot of little projects he wants to get done to make the house better. Tuesday, Ellis was putting a protective coat on what will become a desk for his five children.
"It just keeps kids from putting markers on it if they draw on it, I can just wipe it off," Ellis said.
In his mind, the neighborhood was already perfect.
"That was one of the reasons we bought the property," said Ellis. "It's a quite neighborhood, there's a fire station right there."
But the Lyndon fire station that sits around the corner from his house has closed off and on over the last few years as the fire district struggled with budget issues. Lyndon firefighters can't talk about details, but confirm that those money issues have led the department to open talks with Louisville Metro Government about merging services.
"Lyndon approached the city and said we just don't think we can do it anymore based on the income we have," said Chris Poynter, a spokesperson for Mayor Greg Fischer's office.
Poynter said Lyndon is not alone in its financial struggles.
"Some are doing ok," said Poynter. "Some are doing not as well and it really depends on where they are and what their budgets are and what their expenses are."
Middletown fire chief Jeff Riddle, president of the Jefferson County Fire Chief's Association, says a study completed late last year looked at merging the Metro's 17 suburban fire districts, but in order to provide adequate coverage the tax rate we pay would need to double. That tax rate is currently capped by the state at ten cents for every $100 of value for property owners.
It's a quandary that Poynter says will likely lead more department's to follow Lyndon's lead.
"I think you'll probably see more of this play out over the next four or five years," said Poynter.
Ellis is not concerned if it's Lyndon Fire, Louisville Fire or a newly merged department that responds as long as someone is there if his family needs them.
"I wouldn't as long as that station is still there," he said. "If they close down that station, then obviously it would be a longer distance for where ever the closest one is ... It really just depends on the -- it's a cost benefit analysis, right? How much is it going to cost and what is the benefit for it? So if they're going to raise my taxes $500 a year, so they can keep that there versus another one who can get here a minute later, and not raise my $500 then that might be something that might be worth looking at."
The Lyndon talks with the Metro are in the early stages. Issues like what would happen to the current firefighters or if either of the two Lyndon fire stations would close down are still being negotiated.
Poynter said it will take months for all of that to work itself out and says other suburban departments are watching, although none of them have yet approached the Metro themselves.