TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The Wabash Township Fire Department is in a financial crisis and the township trustee wants to fix it with a property tax increase for next year.
For at least the last two years, the volunteer fire department was using cash reserves to help fund its operations.
Township Trustee Jennifer Teising said the department is five years behind in hiring staff and it's running low on resources.
The proposal includes using the tax increase to employ more full-time and part-time firefighters. It'll also help provide retirement and health insurance benefits, which they don't currently have.
Teising said they're working to fix the problem and get the firefighters more compensation.
“We don't have any more cash, we still have the expenses and we have to do something,” said Teising. “We're looking for a band-aid approach for 2020 to get through the needs of the township and then we're going to analyze different ways that we can support the township in the future permanently.”
Fire Chief Ed Ward said this is necessary for all the work his team puts in.
“We've almost gotten too good at what we do as volunteers,” said Ward. “They've gotten too good at covering all the calls and running all the apparatuses, stuff that career departments, those guys get paid to do, and sometimes it's a struggle.”
Teising said they’ll discuss the proposed property tax increase at a public hearing at the Wabash Township Fire Station next Tuesday, Sep. 17 at 6 p.m. She's encouraging the community to attend.
She said it's unclear how much the tax hike would be but it would only affect the residents not living in West Lafayette city limits.