Indiana Township, firefighters reach financial agreement
A dispute between the Indiana Township Volunteer Firefighters Association and Indiana Township supervisors was resolved when they agreed on criteria for distributing part of the proceeds from a fire tax.
The $120,000, half of the revenue raised from a 0.41-mill emergency services tax, will go into a township fund designated for major expenditures and long-term capital items for the Middle Road, Dorseyville and Rural Ridge volunteer fire departments.
The firefighters association and township officials will determine final criteria for disbursing the funds. This means one department could get more than the others, although the other half of the revenue raised by the tax will be evenly divided.
This year's allocation was distributed in the first quarter.
The $40,000 that each department received was earmarked for utilities, upkeep, small equipment purchases and operating expenditures.
As specified before the fire tax was instituted, all three departments share financial records with the township itemizing how the tax money is spent.
“All checks and balances have been agreed upon,” said Jeff Jones, a firefighter and vice president of the firefighters association.
Township officials wanted to limit amounts that the departments could keep in savings accounts, proposing $75,000 originally and then raising that figure.
The firefighters association wanted no maximum, citing the need to amass a down payment before purchasing a big-ticket item such as a fire engine, for example.
Township manager Daniel Anderson said the township's emergency needs will be the first priority when the capital fund is used. He said none of the departments has a problem with looking at the big picture and what is best for residents.
“They're going to get those monies,” Anderson said.
The township manager said the cooperation on this capital improvement account demonstrates the way emergency services and funding should be handled — not only by Indiana but also among different municipalities.
Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.