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Advisory Board Gives Fire Responsibility to Township
July 2, 2008 - The Wayne Township Advisory Board unanimously passed a resolution at a special meeting last Thursday that makes the township financially responsible for providing fire protection and emergency services for the entire township, including Knightstown.
The resolution, identical to one the Knightstown Town Council approved at a May 29 special meeting, has the Knightstown-Wayne Twp. Volunteer Fire Dept. continuing to serve Knightstown and the rest of Wayne Township. The way those services are funded, however, will change.
Before, the town and township had each raised fire protection and emergency funds through their own respective property tax levies. Beginning in 2009, however, the town will stop collecting property taxes for these services and all funding will come from a fire protection tax levy imposed by the township.
"It's not an increase," Overman told council members at their May 29 meeting. "It's merely a different method of raising the same money. What this does is it guarantees a fair and equitable distribution of costs between Wayne Township and Knightstown. … We're not adding a new tax. We're merely taking it out of your General Fund and placing it where it's really more visible to the people."
Council Vice President Clyde South questioned Overman about whether passing the resolution would result in higher taxes for Knightstown residents. Overman said if assessed valuations and the cost of running the fire department don't change, there should be no increase, adding that the resolution doesn't address specific figures.
"We're talking about creating the ability to set a levy," Overman explained. "We are not talking about how many dollars we're going to spend or how much levy we're going to set. That would be decided in the 2009 budget process, which comes later."
Overman told council members prior to their vote at the May 29 meeting that the resolution allows the town and township to opt out of the agreement before July 1 of any given year. "At anytime, if one of the entities wants out, we can go back and basically reverse the process and put it back the way it was … It is totally reversible," he said.
In related news, the fire department recently took delivery of a new truck, a 1,800-gallon pumper tanker capable of holding five fire fighters - three more than a 1975 truck that is being replaced. Purchase of the new truck was made possible by a $238,500 grant awarded last August by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.
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