By JUDI E. LOOMIS for IN Fort Wayne Community Newspapers, March 10, 2021
The Aboite Township Board has taken steps to expand the Cumulative Fire Fund to pay for firefighting equipment.
On March 8, the board voted 3-0 to increase the tax rate effective payable in 2022. A township spokesperson explained that the rate would increase from $0.0118 per $100 of taxable valuation to no more than $0.0333 — or about 3 cents. At those figures, proceeds would increase from $142,707 to $402,723 per year.
Though the cumulative fund is targeted specifically to equipment, the goal is to free up more money for all firefighting expenses. So the expense of purchasing equipment would be transferred from the general fire fund to the cumulative fund and general fund resources would be freed up for operations.
Chris Perez, office manage for Aboite Civil Township, explained that the cumulative fund and expenses of firefighting and EMS apply only to unincorporated areas of Aboite Township. Much of the township has been annexed by the city of Fort Wayne and is served by — and supports through taxation — the Fort Wayne Fire Department.
Perez explained that the township already has some money in a cumulative fund. “However to have more money we have to go through a process called re-establishment,” Perez said. She admitted that word might cause confusion. “I would rename it if I could,” she said.
Perez said the township is exploring all options to increase fire protection services to the entire community.
Perez calculated that an average homeowner would pay $58.70 per year at the full potential rate of $0.0333. She based that on the median home price in Aboite Township of $320,000. Factoring in typical homestead deductions and mortgage deductions reduces the net taxable assessment to $176,000.
Any tax increase that clears further review would be no more than $.0333. “So if we get any increase it would fall within that range,” Perez said.
Michael Meyers, Aboite Civil Township trustee, said he believes new equipment and additional personnel will benefit Aboite Township greatly and far outweigh any burden of increased property taxes.
All three Township Board members — Barb Krisher, Doug Schenkel and Scott Myers — voted to move the tax proposal forward.
Though he voted in favor, Myers expressed concern about how it might be received. “This kind of thing only goes in one direction,” he said. “… it may be a $58 increase this time, but will it go up year after year?”
Just last year, Myers ran a vigorous but eventually unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Southwest Allen County Schools board. “When I ran for school board, I went door to door talking to homeowners and if there is one topic they are not happy about it is their property taxes,” he said. “Yet, we need to keep our volunteer fire department equipped and with state-of-the-art tools to do their job. I believe increasing the fund will ultimately benefit everyone.”
Within 30 days after adopting the tax, the Township Board must publish a public Notice of Adoption. Property owners then may file a petition stating their objections. The petition would need to be filed with the Allen County Auditor not later than noon, 30 days after publication of the notice.
For information about future public meetings, contact the Aboite Civil Township Trustee’s office at 260-432-0970 or visit the aboitetwp.com.
Aboite News Editor Garth Snow contributed to this report.