Township trustees are saying no thanks to the city’s proposed fire territory tax rates.

Township trustees Tom Knepper (Eel), John Carson (Clay), Bill Buzbee (Noble) and Jim Mayhill (Washington) have compiled a revised counter offer in response to the city’s offer to increase township fire tax rates.

In a letter to Mayor Mike Fincher, the trustees offered to double the tax rate their residents currently pay for fire protection. The proposal would see taxpayers in the four townships paying rates varying from about 16 cents in Noble Township to more than 43 cents in Eel Township.

Buzbee said the proposed jump in rates was more than his township residents could afford.

“The main reason is because it raised our fire costs in Noble Township from $43,000 a year to about $216,000,” he said. “That is an increase for people that don’t have jobs. The fire station is worried about losing their jobs, but I’ve got people out here that don’t got nothing. I’ve got to look out for them, too.”

But Fincher said the deal was not open to negotiation.

“The fire territories were going to be established for everyone to pay a fair price for fire protection,” Fincher said. “We made it clear from the beginning that this was not up for negotiation.”

The mayor said either the township trustees come on board for an equitable tax rate or they will not receive fire protection from the city.

City council member Scott Kraud offered a similar sentiment.

“We should have one taxing district and one tax rate,” he said. “I guess now it’s dead, and we’ll move forward, and they won’t get coverage from the city.”

Fincher has met several times with the four trustees and Umbaugh and Associates, a consulting firm the city hired to help in the process of forming a fire territory and determining a possible tax rate.

The tax rate calculated by Umbaugh and Associates is 45.81 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for taxpayers in each of the townships.

The firm calculated the rates based on assessed valuations provided by the trustees and a preliminary budget for 2011 put together by Fire Chief Bob McMinn.

Fincher said creating the territory would balance the costs among the different townships as opposed to the current system, which has city residents paying the majority of fire costs.

Fincher said the city and township trustees were planning a public meeting for later this month to allow for public comment on the issue. Decisions regarding the territory must be made by March in order for the territory to be established by 2011.

• Jennifer Tangeman is a reporter for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or jennifer.tangeman@pharostribune.com.



Charging for fire coverage:

Current rate Proposed by city Counter offer

Clay .0926 .4581 .1852

Eel .2156 4581 .4312

Noble .0812 .4581 .1624

Washington .0935 .4581 .187

Logansport .5900 .4581 N/A

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