Voters in Freehold Township approve fire district’s budget, purchase of new vehicle

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Voters in Freehold Township Fire District No. 1 have approved a $1.7 million budget to support the operation of the fire district during 2019. Voters also approved the purchase of a new fire vehicle.

There are two fire districts in Freehold Township. Fire District No. 1 is west of Route 9. Firefighting services are provided by the Freehold Township Independent Fire Company No. 1.

On Feb. 16 in the annual fire district election, voters approved two items proposed by the Board of Fire Commissioners: the $1.7 million operating budget for 2019 and the purchase of a new combination ladder and pumper fire engine at a cost not to exceed $1.6 million.

Following consecutive defeats at the polls in 2017 and 2018, the 2019 budget is the first spending plan to receive voter approval since 2016.

John Toutounchi, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners, said the fire district’s budget was approved in a vote of 235 “yes” to 180 “no.” He said the question that proposed the purchase of the new vehicle was approved in a vote of 253 “yes” to 139 “no.”

The fire district’s 2018 budget was put in place by the Township Committee after voters rejected a $1.3 million budget that had been proposed by the fire commissioners.

Following a review of the budget, committee members determined Fire District No. 1 would be authorized to collect $774,200 in taxes to support a total budget that had been reduced to $844,000.

Under the revised budget, the fire district’s tax rate for 2018 was 2.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at the township average of $388,000 paid $89 in fire district taxes.

The tax rate in the 2019 budget will increase to 4.69 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home that is still assessed at $388,000 will pay $182 in fire district taxes – an increase of $93.

A fire district tax is one component of a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, municipal taxes, school taxes and other assessments. Individuals pay more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of their home and/or property.

Under state law, voter approval was required for the purchase of the new fire vehicle. With the approval, the $1.6 million will be paid by bonds or notes or the issuance of a lease/purchase agreement to be determined by the Board of Fire Commissioners, according to a notice from the fire district.

In the election for fire commissioners, incumbent Kevin Horan ran unopposed for a new three-year term. Horan received 337 votes, according to Toutounchi.