Upper Burrell considers fire tax
The Upper Burrell supervisors are considering adding a 2-mill fire tax in what would be the township’s first tax increase in more than a decade.
Supervisors are expected to vote on the new tax when they meet May 1.
Upper Burrell’s real estate tax rate is 10 mills. At that rate, the owner of a home assessed at $25,000 would owe $250 in annual property taxes.
If the 2-mill fire tax passes, that homeowner’s bill would go up $50 a year. One mill of taxes generates about $40,000 for the township.
Supervisor Chairman Ross Walker is calling for the tax because he said the township’s lone fire company is in dire need of updated equipment, especially a new truck.
That could cost about $800,000.
The supervisors last Wednesday authorized township Solicitor Stephen Yakopec to draft a resolution for the 2-mill fire tax. The measure passed 2-0, with Michael Conley abstaining because he is a member of Upper Burrell’s volunteer department.
If supervisors approve the tax, it would be incorporated into the township’s budget for 2020, according to Yakopec.
Upper Burrell Fire Chief Bryan Fitch said the money is needed because its equipment is badly outdated at a time when emergency calls are increasing for the department, which has a pool of 18 steady volunteers.
The two main trucks are at least 23 years old, according to Fitch.
He would like to buy one truck to replace both.
Annual fundraisers such as fish fries during Lent, pancake breakfasts, golf outings, a golf bash and raffles aren’t enough to pay for an $800,000 truck, according to Fitch.
There are other expenses beyond equipment. Every year the state and national fire protection standards require more training, Fitch said.
“Everything we do costs more money,” Fitch said.
To learn more about the fire department, the public is invited to an open house on June 8 at its headquarters at 4370 Seventh Street Road.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .