When we combined a small fire district, a village department, the town fire protection district, and two fire departments into one town-wide fire district, one of the arguments was that the fire departments would no longer have to fund-raise. There is still some done, and the money generally goes into "bells and whistles" or to support non-firematic stuff like our banquet hall (which is also something of a community center).
The two departments still function as standalone organizations, but we're usually out together for anything bigger than a car fire anyhow.
The current tax rate pays all the bills and is purchasing (via reserve funds) three engines over the course of four years (one every two years), not to mention a recently acquired tower/quint.
Our sister department's fireboat fund gets a lot of donations, chiefly from folks who the boat would serve, on the islands. The fire district figures that into the budget for the boat.
I sometimes refer to fundraising as an "indirect tax." Property taxes are direct taxes - around here fire is usually a line item on your tax bill, not part of the general fund. Donations and the income from fundraisers are the indirect taxes. As noted, though, those "indirect taxes" are usually "paid" by a fairly limited number of folks. Curiously, oftimes they don't even live in the service area...
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07-02-2013, 01:23 PM #41Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
07-02-2013, 02:40 PM #42
In my area, a tax increase would not work. We do not have people with a lot of extra, many without any extra. I do not live in a poverty stricken area, but one where people work hard and live within their means, without many extras.
Where I could see an issue with Longwood in particular, is that they are covering multiple municipalities. This could result in some areas being in a condition that could bear a tax increase while other areas may not be able. If part are taxed and some are not, how fair is that?
As for looking forward to the day when we no longer have to fundraise, I don't ever see that happening around here. People would rather give of their time and energy (yes even to fundraise), more than having a tax increase. This is due to ability to pay as well as people having a strong sense of community. They feel the desire to give back to the community and are able to do so either through donations to the fundraisers, or through volunteering. And we do have a 2 mill tax. When we report every year on what the tax money went to, we have to decide which bills were not covered by the tax as it doesn't even cover all of our utilities and maintenance bills.
07-02-2013, 06:56 PM #43
- Join Date
- Oct 2010
This thread has been an interesting read. In my area of NY, fire Departments are either municipal or fire districts. Districts usually either came out of a combination of several small towns into a giant suburban mess via rapid growth, or occur in small, loose towns with a lot of unincorporated area- there simply is not enough of a municipality/ budget to support a fire dept.
Others, like mine, are municipal. ALL operating expenses, Apparatus, capitol purchases, equipment, training etc is paid for by the Village, and by contracts with neighboring areas. We also have a fire dept inc. that fund raises. This money goes to fund incidentals, like food at all nighter calls, after drills, dept clothing, inc class A uniforms, our annual Awards banquet, a scholarship fund, the Chief's vehicle, and our half of the Squad truck. ( we own the body, the Village pays for the chassis) We also own a chunk of land by a village park with a pavilion, chowhouse, bathroom and morton building. This USED to be where we had our carnival when we still did it. Now we use it for training, and rent it out for parties and such.
It works well for us. The village provides for our needs- we have 3 late model rigs- a '99 quint, '05 engine, and '13 rescue engine, which are well equipped to handle the challenges we face. Nothing is just for show- it all has to be justified. We also have a full time paid guy days during the week. It's a non civil service administrator/laborer position. This person handles much of the day to day business, as well as functioning as a driver, EMT etc. ( we cannot pay well enough, nor do we have enough action, to retain a career firefighter. Too many larger, busier and better paying depts in the county...)
Ems is a separate entity.
Bars are basically a thing of the past, too much liability and who the hell wants THAT reputation?
We're also very lucky to be in a county with a strong training program, and a modern training facility. Not to be boastful, but we, nor our neighbors, aren't anywhere near being "cellar Savers", and the low opinion and snide remarks some have for vollys is offensive. That's NOT us.
You don't have to travel too far, though, to find depts that are squeaking by on a wing and a prayer, money-wise. Many of those will likely never have the tax base to do anything else...
07-06-2013, 09:36 AM #44
The way some departments and governing bodies still operate in the country in this age is ridiculous.
07-06-2013, 03:26 PM #45
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
Did I mention I HATE HAVING TO FUNDRAISE!“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia
This place gets weirder and weirder every day...
07-08-2013, 03:17 PM #46
The department in question (Longwood, not the original as I am still not fully sure of those details) does not seem to struggle to buy anything. The only fundraiser that they speak of is a fund drive letter that is sent out. I don't see that as too labor intensive of a funding campaign myself.
07-08-2013, 04:10 PM #47
We have several NFP fire "companies" in our area that contract with the local municipality. The line item on the property tax bills is "fire protection district." The township could easily contract with an adjacent fire department or district, and that does happen.
As with HuntPA, we have no local police - it's the county sheriff or the state police, and if they're extremely busy, it might be 20-30 minutes before we see a patrol. Some villages have part-time police departments, but we aren't a village, either.
Highway is handled by the township, the county, or the state, with many county roads maintained by the township under contract with the county. Given our 100+/- miles of roads in the township, the 6-8 guys and their half dozen or so trucks aren't excessive.
Most of the funding for town operations comes from the town's share of the county sales tax, and a portion of the county bed tax (on hotel rooms). In fact, many towns have a zero tax rate, outside of special districts. And for us fire is a special district, and a line item on the tax bill. It's pretty easy for the taxpayer to see what they're contributing to fire protection.
That said, we've got a decent fire tax rate and usually have plenty of money to do what has to be done. Some careful planning has provided a substantial reserve fund for major apparatus purchases as well.
But, as can be seen by the pay-for-spray debacles, some folks aren't willing to pony up for fire protection.
Why do we do it for free? (Or at least with minimal recompense?) I'd offer pride and duty to the community as primary reasons.Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
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