Mt. Laurel Fire District No. 1 Election set for Feb. 18

Residents will be voting on two seats for the Board of Fire Commissioners and the proposed 2017 budget with a 1.433 cent tax increase.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, Mt. Laurel voters will be asked to vote on the 2017 budget for Fire District No. 1. If approved, the budget would increase the district’s tax rate by 1.433 cents.

This would raise the district’s tax rate from the 2016 level of 14.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 15.833 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The budget would raise a total of $9.17 million by taxation to support full budget expenses of $10.31 million.

For the average homeowner in Mt. Laurel with a home valued at $237,600, residents would see an increase of about $34.05.

According to Scott Jones, administrator for Fire District No. 1, this is the first time in six years the district has asked the public to approve a tax increase.

“Starting in 2011, we have either held our tax rate at a zero increase and even reduced it one year in order to help our taxpayers deal with the long recession and other financial impacts that the public has experienced,” Jones said.

Jones attributes the district’s streak of keeping taxes flat to reductions in unnecessary expenses and the district’s use of modest amounts of its fund balance.

However, Jones said the district found itself in a position where it was necessary to increase the tax rate if it wanted to continue providing the services that “our residents expect and deserve.”

Jones said the district is budgeting for a $200,000 deposit into its Capital Reserve Outlay fund to increase the fund’s balance to $400,000.

Jones said the district will be able to use the fund to pay for purchases the district expects to make during the next five years, such as fire apparatus, radio equipment and self-contained breathing apparatus devices/cylinders lessening.

With the money already in reserve, Jones said it would lessen the district’s need to borrow money in the future.

Jones said the district will continue to staff its three fire stations with crews at all times of the day, every day of the week, “which ensures a very quick response when residents dial 911.”

This year, voters will also get to vote in election for Fire District No. 1 Board of Fire Commissioners.

Incumbent board members Phil Roura and Robert Shestack are each running for re-election unopposed for three-year seats.

Polls will be open on Feb. 18 from 2 to 9 p.m., at the Masonville Fire Station No. 1 361 located at 105 Masonville Road, Fellowship Fire Station No. 1 362 located at 3824 Church Road and Headquarters Fire Station located at 69 Elbo Lane.

More information regarding the election can be found on the district’s website at www.mountlaurelfire.com.