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Officials turn down fire district tax hike

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One of the county’s largest fire departments wanted to collect more money in taxes for equipment but was turned down.

The Johnson County Board of Commissioners denied a request from the White River Township Fire Protection District to increase its cumulative fund rate, which determines the amount of tax dollars the district receives each year to buy equipment.

With the current rate, the department receives $450,000 per year to buy equipment. The proposed 4.7 percent increase would have brought in an additional $20,000 into the fund each year.

Commissioner Ron West said he did not support the request because it would add more stress to other county entities, and Commissioner Brian Baird said the additional $20,000 could be found elsewhere in the district’s $7 million budget. Commissioner Tom Kite was in favor of the request, citing the need to avoid interest payments on future vehicle purchases.

White River Township Fire Chief Jeremy Pell said the district wanted to set aside more money to buy fire trucks with cash, avoiding interest payments. The fire district currently has $1.462 million in its cumulative fund, but approximately $1 million will be used to purchase a ladder truck in about a year, Pell said.

The request, if approved, still would have needed the final OK from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

Last year, the fire district requested a rate increase, but it was denied by the state.

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