Township of Kimball. a dedicated fire tax could transfer money to roads and parks

If you are a resident of Kimball Township and experience a house fire, firefighters and platforms will respond from two stations and mutual aid from neighboring departments may also be called.

However, unlike residents of many neighboring townships, those who live in Kimball will be billed for this fire department.

That’s something township officials want to change with a dedicated fire department tax.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to call the fire department because they’re going to get a bill,” Kimball Township Fire Chief Ed Gratz said.

Although the department does not bill for medical emergencies, it does issue bills for calls like house fires and traffic accidents.

Gratz said that depending on their time at the scene and the materials used, house fire bills can range from $1,500 to $7,000. And insurance companies don’t always cover the cost, he said.

“We’re looking at our long-term budget estimates and between roads and parks and the cost of firefighting equipment, it’s more than we have in the general fund,” said Rob Usakowski, supervisor. of the township.

Kimball Township Fire Chief Ed Gratz stands in front of a parked fire truck inside the Kimball Township Fire Department on Allen Road in Kimball Township, Monday, May 23, 2022.

The 1.5 million tax and what it means

Voters will decide on the proposed tax for firefighters on August 2.

If approved, the $1.5 million tax would be collected for five years, raising about $438,722 in the first year.

The tax would eliminate service charges for residents of Kimball Township. Some general fund dollars previously used to subsidize the ministry would be reallocated to roads and parks.

Gratz and Usakowski said a dedicated tax would also allow them to better fund equipment turnover schedules, station maintenance, improve salaries and help with insurance pricing for residents.

The department currently has a full-time chief and 40 paid on-call firefighters.

Firefighter gear and gear hang inside the Kimball Township Fire Department on Allen Road in Kimball Township on Monday, May 23, 2022.

How much will it cost residents?

The cost of the tax would be determined by the taxable value of the residence.

A residence with a assessed value of $25,000 would be charged approximately $37.50 per year, while a residence with a assessed value of $125,000 would pay approximately $187.50 per year.

If approved, Kimball Township residents would not be charged for the service, but out-of-town residents involved in an emergency such as a traffic accident would still be charged.

In 2021, ministry expenses were approximately $458,564, including approximately $79,580 in revenue from items such as service fees and burning permits.

The township operates on a budget of approximately $1.5 million. Approximately $538,000 from the general fund has been allocated to the fire department in 2021.

The department has seen an increase in calls over the years, with 1,026 incidents in 2021, up from 888 in 2019.

What this will mean for roads and parks

Usakowski gave details of how general fund dollars would be reallocated if tax passes were still under discussion. He said they estimate about $300,000 would be moved from the fire department to roads and parks.

“We’re still going through the numbers,” he said, adding that about 80% would go to roads and 20% would go to parks.

Usakowski said the township has a budget of about $200,000 for roads each year, with more work to do than dollars available.

He added that the park’s infrastructure is also aging and in need of replacement.

The town halls on the tax

Municipal officers will be available every Wednesday in June and July to discuss the tax application with residents.

Town halls will take place at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. each Wednesday at the fire station on Allen Road and at the town hall on Wadhams Road.

Residents are asked to call to reserve a spot as space is limited at both locations.

Who to call with questions?

  • Rob Usakowski, Township Supervisor: (810) 987-9461 ext. 123
  • Ed Gratz, Township Fire Chief: (810) 982-9461 ext. 02
  • Becky Wrubel, Township Clerk: (810) 987-9797 ext. 112

Contact Liz Shepard at lshepard@gannett.com.