HILLSBOROUGH: Did fire budget vote reflect a ‘thank you’?

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Residents apparently found one way to register a tangible thank you to fire fighters for efforts battling a historic industrial park blaze Feb. 11-13.
Voters came out Saturday in higher numbers than normal and overwhelmingly approved the $2.35 million in local property taxes to pay for the 2016 fire district budget.
Two commissioners, Charlie Nuara and John Catrombon Jr., running unopposed for new three-year terms garnered 290 and 285 votes, respectively.
The budget was projected to would raise property taxes on the “average” home assessed at $350,000 by about $30. The fire budget takes a little more than three cents per $100 assessment; the amount appears on a separate line item on a property tax bill.
Two separate questions for permission to spend a total of $195,000 in capital items that should show up in the 2017 budget were also approved one-sidedly. The separate questions are needed to allow those purchases to be outside the 2 percent cap on tax increases in a public entity’s budget.
The question asking to 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, was approved, 355-43.
A question asking for $60,000 for replacement turnout gear for about 20 firefighters received similar support, 355-44. Gear has a state-mandated 10-year.
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 — was included.
The budget covers the cost of district-wide training, equipment and operations for the three Hillsborough firehouses, and includes a $70,600 contract (the same as last year) with the Neshanic fire company to serve part of the township.

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