TOWN HALL – Long-term plans for Wabash Township Fire Department
The meeting was not recorded so the slides and trustee comments are outlined below. We had 45 mins of questions and conversation that are not documented here but if questions are recieved by email they will be added as they are recieved. The trustee conducted this town hall in an effort to ensure the public has the information they need to participate in the discussion regarding fire protection in the unincorporated area of the township. The trustee will continue to have public meetings until she feels that the public has the information they need to make a decsion regarding property tax increases and how they impact the hiring of staff.
Trustee comments regarding board responsibilities: “There has been confusion regarding the roles and responsibilities of the elected officials in the township. The board does not manage or supervise the trustee. The oversight of the trustee office is conducted by the State Board of Accounts via audit once every 4 years or as needed.”
Trustee comments regarding board meetings: “The board is required to meet 5 times per year, once per quarter and two budget meetings. These are the boards meetings. They set the agenda, discuss the topics and then vote on the agenda item. The trustee does not have any control over how these meetings are conducted.”
Trustee comments regarding trustee responsibilities: “The trustee is the person responsible for providing fire protection to the unincorporated area of the township. The unincorporated area is the area of the township outside West Lafayette city which is covered by West Lafayette Fire Department. The trustee conducts the day to day business of the township and produces an annual report of expenses for the review by SBOA (State Board of Accounts) and for the boards use regarding the budget process. The trustee hires, fires, and manages all personnel in the township. The board and trustee do not work together but have very different and seperate responsibilities.”
Trustee comments regarding volunteer compensation: “Historically how the volunteers have been paid and how I would like to pay them this year is to use the run data and a pay per call model. However I need the run data by the end of the month in order to do that. I will have no choice but to issue the state minimum of $250 12/1/2021 if I do not have this information. For some volunteers this could be a difference of several thousand dollars.”
Trustee comments regarding hiring: “The board and I agree that we would like to have full time paid firefighters with benefits. In order to do that we need to establish a funding mechanism to ensure the long term sustainability of these positions.”
Above you will see the cost of various numbers of positions. The 3 & 7 were shown at the meeting and discussed.
Trustee comments funding: “The board, the fire department and myself have all agreed that we should have full time paid fire fighters with benefits. The state legislature has allowed townships to increase property tax in 2022 to permanently raise revenue. Reedy Financial has provided me an estimate of an additional $220,000 per year. This will allow us to hire 3 firefighters in 2022. The fire department has requested 7 full time positions. As you can see from my calculations we would still need additional funding. The state legislature has allowed communities to petition the county to create a Fire District and set a permanent tax rate that would allow Wabash Township to fund those additional 4 positions.”
Trustee awaits the boards response to the request to have these documents and meet with legal counsel to ensure next steps are taken as quickly as possible.