More communities are enacting fire taxes, which allocates funds solely for the fire department. East Pennsboro Township is the latest to consider one.
Municipalities are enacting the taxes because the cost keeps going up to run fire departments.
“So, we’re getting ready to buy a fire truck this year, for example. It’s about $600,000,” Carlisle Borough Manager Matt Candland said. Carlisle has a fire tax.
“It has made a difference to us,” said Dan Grimes, Chief of Carlisle Fire and Rescue Services. “It has supplemented some of the lower fundraisers that we do that don’t bring in the money.”
“The difference is we’ve been able to generate the revenue,” Candland said. “We’re buying a truck this year.”
Hampden Township also has a new rescue truck, but they don’t have a fire tax. Revenue for the fire company comes out of the general fund.
“As long as the township and the fire companies are working together like this, I could see this lasting and not having to have a fire tax in the township,” said Doug Gochenaur, the township’s fire administration officer.
How can Hampden Township afford it when so many other municipalities are struggling?
“We just have one company in our township, it’s all Hampden Township fire company,” Gochenaur said. “Some of the other municipalities have three or four different companies vying for the same funds from the municipality. So, that’s an advantage we have here.”
Hampden Township has another advantage.
“Hampden Township has been growing for the past 30 years, so that’s been helpful in terms of revenue and residents. The tax revenues are coming in on that front,” said Nathan Silcox, assistant secretary of the township’s board of commissioners.
Just because Hampden Township doesn’t have a fire tax now doesn’t mean they won’t have one in the future.
“We’re doing our best to live without that the best we can,” Silcox said. “Possibly down the road it might have to occur, but we’re going to do our best right now to make sure we don’t have to do that.”
Firefighters said fire taxes also free them up to do more training, because they don’t have to spend as much of their time on fund raising.