E. PENNSBORO TWP., Pa. - Property owners in this Cumberland County community will see a slight tax increase to provide additional funding to the township's volunteer fire companies after township commissioners approved the increase Wednesday.
In previous years, fire services were paid for out of the township's general fund at a rate of 0.28 mills. Now, fire services will have a dedicated budget at a rate of 0.47 mills.
The increase means there will now be around $870,000 annually dedicated to fire services, township officials said.
The township's volunteer fire department says the increase was needed to prevent a move to a paid department, which would have cost about $12 million in the first year.
There were plenty of firefighters in attendance Wednesday and they applauded the board's approval of the increased funding.
“We're providing a great service for as little as we can, but we have to pay the bills, we have to pay the electric, the gas,” John Bruetsch, a spokesman for the East Pennsboro Township fire department, said. “You have to maintain the rigs. We can't keep running rigs that are 20-plus years old.”
In addition to upgrading equipment, commissioners are also hoping the increased funding can help attract new people to join the department's volunteer ranks.
“We're covering all the fire companies to get the service out to all the residents, but what this specifically does is be able to get training involved to be able to get people to come and fight the fires,” Charlie Gelb, an East Pennsboro Township board commissioner, said.
The tax increase will take effect in the new year.