HILLSBOROUGH: $2.3 million fire district budget goes to voters Saturday 


Share post:

By Gene Robbins, Managing Editor
Last weekend’s efforts to fight a historic industrial park blaze casts more awareness on the importance of this Saturday’s fire district budget election.
The Hillsborough Board of Fire Commissioners is proposing a budget that calls for $2.35 million in local property taxes to support it.
Voting is from 2 to 9 p.m. The only poll is in the municipal building on South Branch Road.
Two commissioners, Charlie Nuara and John Catrombon Jr., are running unopposed for new three-year terms.
Mr. Nuara said the budget would raise property taxes on the “average” home assessed at $350,000 by about $30. The fire budget takes about three cents per $100 assessment and the amount appears on a separate line item on a property tax bill.
Like last year, the commission is asking in two separate questions for permission to spend a total of $195,000 in two areas. Those amounts would show up in the 2017 budget. Voter approval is needed to allow those purchases to be outside the 2 percent cap on tax increases in a public entity’s budget.
One question would buy air compressors for two of the three township fire companies (companies 36 and 37), and a filling station for self-contained breathing tanks for the other (Company 38), which already has a compressor.
The other question asks for $60,000 for replacement turnout gear for about 20 firefighters, said Mr. Nuara. A similar question was asked and approved last year and is included in the 2016 budget. Gear has a state-mandated 10-year life, said Mr. Nuara.
Last year’s budget was just a tick under $2 million. The main difference is the purchase of a 20-year-old fire pumper at $715,000 for the Flagtown company — which was approved by the voters last year as a separate question — is included, said Mr. Nuara, the chair of the commission.
Also approved last year were $30,000 to replace fire hose, and that money is budgeted this year.
The budget covers the cost of district-wide training, equipment and operations for the three Hillsborough firehouses, and includes $70,600 contract (the same as last year) with the Neshanic fire company to serve part of the township.
Each of the three township firehouses would receive $29,400 (the same as last year) for their own training, equipment and conferences costs.
About one-fourth of the budget ($604,300) is for salaries and benefits for the four fulltime and one parttime fire marshals, and two fulltime and one parttime administrative workers. The office’s longtime administrator, Dianne Riccardo, is retiring and there is money for her to work with a replacement.
Purchases of big-ticket items, like the replacement fire pumper for Flagtown, are paid for by the commission’s capital reserve fund, to which a contribution is set aside annually. This year, $281,972 would be set aside, less than the almost $325,000 of 2015.
Other large line items go to insurance at $270,000 (down $15,000 from last year) and $160,000 for vehicle and equipment maintenance.
Another $161,000 is included in a Length of Service Awards Program that gives volunteers in the four companies a $1,300 retirement annuity payment if they qualify by attending meetings, drills and fire calls. The amount is the same as budgeted in 2015.
The fire district must replace and upgrade its fire radios to meet new standards, said Mr. Nuara, and $70,000 is included in the budget. That’s $55,000 more for the 2015 budgeted line items for pagers, radios and sirens.
The budget doesn’t deal with the unexpected expenses, particularly in equipment, that are likely from fighting last week’s fire at the Veterans Industrial Park.
Mr. Nuara and Mr. Catrombon have served one term on the commission. Both are past fire chiefs in the Woods Road company and each has served for more than 20 years in executive and line positions.
Commissioners earn a stipend of $3,000 per year.

Stay Connected


Current Issue

Latest News

Related articles

A job well done

The Hillsborough Township Police Department recognizes two officers - one from each of the department's patrol squads -...

‘It’s an absolutely gorgeous place’

The Pinelands 2024 Juried Photographic Exhibition is in its sixth year capturing the "unique, mysterious, and charming characteristics"...

Hillsborough Police: Man found unresponsive may have suffered medical issue

A 66-year-old Hillsborough resident, who was found unresponsive near the east bound lanes of Amwell Road, may have...

Hillsborough police warn of increase in mail thefts

With increasing mail thefts, Hillsborough Township police are reminding residents to be aware of the type of mail...