On April 20, the annual fire district elections will take place throughout New Jersey.
As part of the election, individuals are elected to fill expiring three-year terms as fire commissioners. Also voted on during the election is the annual budget for each fire district.
This is not a new tax, Chief Christopher Perez of the Kendall Park Fire Company reminded residents. South Brunswick separated into three taxing fire districts in 1978, and as such, the fire tax has been included as a separate line item in a property owner’s property tax bill for almost 45 years.
For South Brunswick Fire District No. 1, which is covered by the Kendall Park volunteer firefighters, the total budget for 2021 is $874,050, with the amount of $867,750 to be raised by taxes. This is a 0.9% increase over 2020’s budget, or an increase of $7,630.
The tax rate for 2020 was 8.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation and there will not be an increase in the tax rate for 2021. Thus, taxes for fire protection will remain the same for taxpayers covered by the district.
The owner of a home in Kendall Park that has an average assessed value of $193,230 will pay $161 for fire protection this year.
Perez explained that although the budget increased, the tax rate remained the same because it is covered by new ratables in the fire district; thus, there is no increase to taxpayers.
“The commissioners of each district live in their district. They are local people trying to get the best fire protection they can while being conscious of every dollar we spend,” Perez said.
For District 1, incumbent commissioners Kris Olson and Sarah Berezansky are running unopposed for re-election.
The election will be held from 2-9 p.m. April 20 at the Kendall Park Firehouse, 125 New Road, Kendall Park section of South Brunswick.
The election for South Brunswick Fire District No. 2, which covers the Monmouth Junction, Dayton and Deans sections of the township, will be held from 2-9 p.m. April 20 at the Monmouth Junction Fire Station, 573 Ridge Road in Monmouth Junction.
The 2021 budget for Fire District No. 2 calls for total appropriations in the amount of $1,200,668, which is a decrease of $58,756 from the 2020 budget. The amount to be raised by taxation is $1,036,000, which is an increase of $16,400 from the 2020 budget, according to information provided by Fire District Coordinator Scott Smith.
The tax rate for 2021 will be 4.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The tax rate was the same in 2020. For a residence assessed at the average value of $192,638, a taxpayer in Fire District No. 2 will pay $85 for fire protection this year.
Since 1924, fire protection has been provided by the Monmouth Junction Volunteer Fire Department. The use of an all-volunteer firefighting force results in a significant savings for taxpayers every year, according to fire district officials.
In 2020, the proposed budget for Fire District No. 2 was voted down by residents for the first time in the 42-year history of the district.
The defeated budget was subsequently reviewed by the Township Council, whose members eventually voted to approve the fire district’s budget as it had been proposed.
Also, two incumbent commissioners are on the April 20 ballot seeking re-election: Charles G. Spahr and Douglas A. Wolfe. There are no other candidates who have applied to be placed on the ballot.
Fire District No. 3 will open the polls to its registered voters from 2-9 p.m. April 20 at the Kingston Firehouse, Heathcote Road, Kingston.
The fire district’s budget for 2021 is $836,429, with $597,766 to be raised through taxation.
South Brunswick is divided into three fire districts, each with its own elected five-member Board of Fire Commissioners. The commissioners are responsible for providing fire protection to the residents and businesses of their respective district.
Since the creation of the fire districts in the town in 1978, the providing of fire protection is funded through the levy of a fire tax on all property owners within the respective fire districts, which is paid as part of the township property tax (residents do not receive a separate bill).
Prior to the creation of the fire districts, funding for fire protection came through fundraisers run by the local volunteer fire departments, along with a small stipend provided by the governing body.
Funds generated by the fire tax are used to fund fire protection services to residents and businesses of the fire district. This includes the operation and maintenance of the fire stations and fire apparatus, as well as the purchase of firefighting equipment, supplies and protective clothing for firefighters; costs of training; and insurance.
All three fire companies in South Brunswick are volunteer organizations.
The annual budget for each fire district is drafted by the members of the Board of Fire Commissioners and must be presented at a fire district meeting at least 60 days prior to the date of the election.
Once adopted, the budget is then submitted to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs – Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) for review. Once approved by the DLGS, the budget is then presented at a public hearing during a fire district meeting where residents may comment on the budget.
Following the public hearing, the budget must be formally adopted by the majority of the five-member Board of Fire Commissioners.
Once adopted, the budget is sent back to the DLGS for final review and comment. Once reviewed and approved by the DLGS, the budget can then be placed on the ballot for approval/disapproval by the registered voters of the district.
If a proposed budget is voted down in any fire district, the members of the Township Council will review the budget and decide what costs are justified, and if they will make any cuts or leave the budget as it was proposed by the fire commissioners of that fire district.