Fire District Proposal Get Public Hearing May 5

A proposal to establish a Vernon Township Fire District will get a public hearing by the Crothersville Town Council and Vernon Township Board on Tuesday, May 5, according to public notices published in this week’s Crothersville Times.

The fire district was proposed in February by local fire chief Ben Spencer as a way of increasing needed funding for the Crothersville-Vernon Township Fire Department.

In separate meetings both the town council and township board have expressed their approval for establishing a fire district. The joint public hearing on May 5 will give both boards and the public an opportunity to pose questions and offer comments on the proposal. Following the public hearing both boards may take action to move the process forward.

Should that occur, the establishment of the fire district will be left in the hands of the Jackson County Commissioners. The commissioners will appoint a five-person fire district board to oversee the finances of the fire district. Both town and township will be sending the commissioners a list of potential fire district board members to consider.

Currently, the Vernon Township Trustee is responsible to funding fire protection in the town and township. Property owners in the township currently pay just under 4¢ per $100 of assessed valuation for fire protection and cumulative fire equipment.

Because of property tax caps and maximum levy limitations, the trustee is raising as much money allowed by the state for fire protection.

Establishing a fire district would, no doubt, mean a rate higher than the present one.

A 4¢ rate on a $100,000 owner-occupied home would mean that property would pay $13.10 annually for fire protection; a 6¢ rate would mean a homeowner would pay $19.65 a year and an 8¢ rate would cost a homeowner $26.20 a year.

Non-owner occupied homes, farms and businesses would pay more because those properties are not eligible for mortgage and homestead exemptions. For those entities, each $100,000 of assessed value would cost $40, $60, or $80 per year, respectively.

The public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, in conjunction with the monthly town council meeting.