Perry County community approves tax hike for fire department

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CENTRE TWP., Pa. - Township supervisors approved a property tax increase Tuesday to fund its fire department's future capital projects.

The .3 mill increase to .7 mills would equal $30 a year more on a $100,000 home and will take effect in 2018, but it will be revisited on an annual basis, supervisors said.

Firefighters with the New Bloomfield Volunteer Fire Company had negotiated with the township for more than two years without an agreement on how to fund the department's future capital projects, including new vehicles and a new fire station.

Residents in attendance pushed for a decision on the fire tax, saying they would willingly pay higher taxes to fund the fire department's needs.

"I'm grateful for that," Joyce Rogers, a township resident, said after the vote. "I don't want to have to wait for another ambulance or fire department that's farther away from me to come help me when they are right here and they do a great job."

The fire department had tried to get the township to agree to the four-year plan it has with the borough of New Bloomfield, but the impasse had raised concerns that the fire company would no longer provide fire coverage to the township.

Those concerns were a long way off, according to fire company President Justin Kretzing.

"We're here to try to work out a plan for this community, so that nobody has to ever go without fire protection, and that's why we're here, is so that we hopefully never get to that point," he said.