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Tuesday vote could create a paid fire department in New Carlisle

NOW: Tuesday vote could create a paid fire department in New Carlisle

NEW CARLISLE, Ind. – The New Carlisle Town Council and the Olive Township Board is scheduled to vote on a proposal Tuesday that, if passed, would create a paid fire department for the two communities.

Supporters say it’s no longer safe to rely on volunteers but opponents say it costs too much.

“We just need a paid staff so that at any certain time, day or night, they’re there to answer a call,” said New Carlisle Town Council Vice President Dan Vermillion.

Vermillion thinks the community needs a paid department. He says at certain times of the day or night several members of the current volunteer department can’t respond because of their jobs. Vermillion argues that’s not safe and puts the town in danger.

“If your house starts on fire and you call and two people show up, obviously it’s a safety concern,” said Vermillion. “We cannot allow that to happen.”

Under the proposal, New Carlisle and Olive Township would form a joint fire territory.

The territory says it needs $1.8 million in 2020, $2.2 million in 2021, and $2.3 million in 2022 to pay for firefighter salaries, supplies, and other services.

A new tax would raise the money needed to fund the territory.

The tax increase would only affect people whose taxes don’t hit the maximum rates allowed under the circuit breaker law which goes into effect in 2020.

However, even for those who have hit the max, under the proposal, more of their money would go to their territory and less would go to other taxing entities such as the New Prairie United School Corporation, the New Prairie- Olive Township Public Library, and New Carlisle and Olive Township’s local governments.

Broken down, here’s how much in property taxes would be loss by each entity in 2020 when compared to 2019 if the proposal passes according to the New Carlisle Town Council:

-        New Prairie United School Corp. – Loss to increase from $43,100 to $177,500, or $346,000 if the proposal passes

-        New Carlisle – Olive Township Public Library – Loss to increase from $17,000 to $73,700, or $143,800 if the proposal passes

-        Town of New Carlisle – Loss to increase from $85,000 to $211,500, or $301,900 if the proposal passes

-        Olive Township – Loss to increase from $800 to $6,000, or to $214,000 if the proposal passes.

Due to this, some people say they are weary of the proposal.

“Money can be recouped, budgets can be adjusted, services can be altered as far as the school and the library, but the public safety for our town and our township is the utmost importance,” said Vermillion.

Dr. Paul White is the superintendent of New Prairie United School Corporation. He said the territory would slash the district’s operations fund. He said that could mean cuts in the school’s transportation or building maintenance services over the next few years.

“We’re obviously not against them or against fire protection and they’re critical community partners,” said White. “[But] with the amount that’s being proposed now, it would be a more substantial hit. We’d have to look at some spending offsets. There would be no way around it.”

Both White and Vermillion say the impact could be minimized if Hudson Township joins the territory. The township was expected to join, but the Thomas Euler, the township trustee, pulled the township out of the agreement. ABC57 tried to reach Euler to learn why but he did not respond ABC57's request for comment. 

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the New Carlisle Fire Department.

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