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Fairfield becomes first to enact fire tax

Richard D. L. Fulton

(9/26) The Fairfield Borough Council became the first municipality in Adams County to adopt a\fire tax in a unanimous vote at their September 24 meeting.

The measure was approved in a 6-0 vote, council President Patricia Smith absent. The tax rate will go into effect in 2014.

The council set the fire tax rate at 0.25 mills, which amounts to a tax of 25 cents per $1,000 of real estate value. For example, a homeowner owning a property valued at $200,000 would pay an annual fire tax of $50.

The fire tax was adopted in response to a recent recommendation by the Adams County Council of Governments (COG) to supplement the financial needs of the volunteer fire companies in Adams County. A rate of 0.25 mills was the tax rate suggested by COG.

A study on the state of the emergency services in the county, financed in part by the Adams County Council of Governments (COG), stated, "This action (consideration of enacting municipal fire taxes) needs to be taken now…"

Fairfield Borough Councilman Carroll Smith told the News-Journal back in July that the production and consideration of a Fairfield fire tax ordinance "could be imminent."

In fact, he said at that time, "We (council) have already given our attorney (in July) instructions to draft an ordinance which we can entertain."

Explaining the reasoning behind a push for a fire tax, COG explained, "Fire departments have significant operating expenses and they can no longer be expected to offset those costs by conducting fund raisers."

"The fire departments have reached the point that they are unable to cover their costs through fund raising and must receive greater support in order to maintain a volunteer force." the organization stated.

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