A budget up for vote Feb. 18 shows a 2.35 percent increase in the fire tax levy, though a larger rateable base in town means the tax rate will decrease by 1.2 cents.
This year’s budget totals $2,079,843, a $16,680 increase over 2011’s $2,063,163 budget. That includes $1,657,570 to be generated through local taxes.
The $1,657,570 is a $38,160 increase—or 2.35 percent—over last year’s tax levy, which was $1,619,410. The budget calls for a 1.2 cent, or 28.5 percent, decrease in the tax rate from 4.2 cents to 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The owner of a home assessed at the Township average of $370,000 would pay $111 in fire taxes under the 2012 budget. In 2011, under the 4.2 cent per $100 of assessed value tax rate, the owner of a home assessed at the Township average of $370,000 would pay $155.40 in fire taxes. That's $44.40 more than $111.
Most of the budget covers the normal operating cost for all three fire districts, which include housing insurance, administrative costs, and other items, according to the Hillsborough Office of Fire Safety.
“These are expenses to run the fire companies,” Diane Riccardo, of the Fire Safety Office, said. “Your boots, gloves, turn-out gear, your gas to run your fire trucks is all incorporated into this.”
The total budget also includes allowing the Fire Commission to use $415,000 of its Capital Reserve fund to replace at least one fire truck. The money is already saved from prior fire budgets, as part of the commissioners’ agreement to save for future large equipment replacements.
“They don’t go out and bond for this type of equipment,” Riccardo said. “It’s already saved. We need to ask the voters if it’s alright for us to go out and buy this piece of apparatus.”
Usually, the fire companies’ trucks last between 20 to 25 years, and are replaced on a rotating scale. and have the oldest pieces of equipment, a brush truck and a tanker truck, both dating from 1989.
“They are going to take a look at the apparatus and check the miles, the repairs,” Riccardo said. “If a piece of apparatus is costing too much and it’s not worth fixing it anymore, they might go with something else. Most likely, they’ll look at it and decide, ‘do we need a brush truck more or a tanker.’”
Anticipated truck replacements include a tanker truck for in 2014, a pumper truck for in 2015, a pumper truck for in 2017 and a replacement ladder truck for in 2019, according to Fire Commissioner Ron Berju.
In addition to the budget, three township firefighters are running for two spots on the Board of Fire Commissioners. Incumbents Greg Kane and Robert Uniszkiewicz are running for reelection to their three-year posts, and are joined on the ballot by firefighter and Hillsborough Police Officer Nicholas Patullo.
The multipurpose room will be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday for the election.