Huntington Significantly Raises Township's Cost for Fire Service

By Stephanie Parkinson

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM EDT

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (21Alive) - The City of Huntington is asking nearby township residents to foot the bill for a 700 percent tax hike for fire protection.

"We can't come up with $540,000. We're not in agreement to the establishment of a fire territory. So our only option is volunteer fire departments," said Tim Guy, Huntington Twp. Trustee.

The city wants to create a fire territory within Huntington Township. This would allow an appointed board to work with the city and township on tax rates for fire service.

"It basically just spreads the cost out over all those who benefit from it," said Mayor Brooks Fetters, (R) Huntington.

Through this option, Mayor Fetters says a four person household, in the city, would end up saving around $100 a year. But for the township residents, their taxes could go up by hundreds.

"We fell like that would raise taxes unnecessarily," said Guy.

Although the city is asking for significantly more money, the mayor of Huntington says that's simply what it costs for their fire department to serve the residents of the township.

"My statutory responsibility is to run an efficient operation here for the City of Huntington, and make sure it's fair for all concerned," said Fetters.

In an effort to save money for his constituents, the township trustee is working with several neighboring volunteer fire departments, and is hoping to strike a deal that would prevent the tax increases.

"We understand their problems with revenue shortfall, but to ask for a 700 percent increase certainly doesn't seem reasonable to me," said Guy.

The city has agreed to provide another year of service at the much lower $75,000 a year rate, but by 2015 the township will need to have another option to protect their residents.

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