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Woodward supers approve 1 mill fire tax

DUNNSTOWN — The Woodward Township supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance which sets a fire tax for 2020 at 1 mill based on a home’s assessed value.

That 1 mill would be a tax of $100 per $100,00 of assessed property per year.

The issue has been a hot topic among residents, many of whom are against the tax, after the supervisors held two public meetings in previous weeks to discuss the possibility.

The tax will be implemented this year and generate approximately $137,000 for the fire company.

The money will be placed in a separate bank account and be controlled by the supervisors. The fire company may request funds from the account, but the request must be approved by the supervisors, Chairman Kyle Coleman said.

The tax wasn’t implemented without serious discussion amongst the supervisors, mainly from Coleman who wanted reassurances that, even with the tax in place, they’ll look for ways to cut costs in the township.

“I’m not breaking with you, we’re a team. I’m in favor, I just need reassurances,” he said.

Among those reassurances was the sale of the sewer authority building at 21 Oriole Road.

Coleman was adamant that he and fellow supervisors, Wayne Love and John Barth, place the former sewer authority building for sale.

The property was purchased by the now-dissolved Woodward Township Sewer Authority in 2013 for $138,000 to base its operations.

So far about $225,000 has been invested in the former residence including sale and renovations into an office space, Coleman said.

The cost to maintain the building monthly is estimated at $900, he said.

“We have a sewer house that we’re maintaining for people to drop payments off. It is insane. I think that house should be gotten rid of,” Coleman said.

Many residents in the audience voiced their agreement with the proposed sale.

Coleman offered multiple proposals for where the sewer office could relocate, including within the fire company or the township building.

“There’s an office right here. If we’re going to help the fire company out, they can help us out by moving the sewer office in here and selling that house,” he said. “Put that house back on the tax roll where it belongs. The sewer could start paying money to the fire company here for rental.”

He also suggested another option where the police department — located at the township building — is moved to the fire hall.

Both Love and Barth were not against the sale of the house in the future or the relocation of various department but still felt the tax must be put in place to help the fire company immediately.

“I have no problem if we generate income and come back and lower (the tax),” Love said. “In fact, I don’t even like to say I want to put it in place.”

When asked why the supervisors brought the tax up in recent weeks instead of sooner, Love said they’d been discussing the possibility for two years.

“We can partially take the blame here. We’ve known for years now,” Coleman said. “We should have come and done this three or four years ago but we were trying our best to keep moving forward.”

“What we need to do tonight is take care of that fire company and then come back. I’ve already said I’m willing to come back and lower that tax,” Love said.

O’Conner noted that the tax must be reviewed each year which gives room for the supervisors to make changes.

“It has to be revisited,” he said.

The supervisors also agreed to place the potential sale of the sewer building on next month’s agenda.

The next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

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