ICYMI: Cinnaminson fire elections are today

The elections will take place at the municipal building from 2 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, Cinnaminson voters will go to the municipal building to vote on the fire department’s proposed budget for 2017. Polls will be open from 2 to 9 p.m.

Residents will also vote for a new member on the Board of Commissioners. Harry Smith III is running unopposed for fire commissioner.

Cinnaminson Fire Department is a combination department, meaning it is made up of both career and volunteer members. The total budget for 2017 is $3,645,458. The total amount to be raised through taxes is $3,014,200. The rest of the funds will be covered by grants, interest, the United States Fire Administration and 2016 budget surplus, according to a department budget presentation.

Some of the biggest budget items are salaries, which make up $1,250,171, and health, dental insurance, Social Security, police and firemen’s retirement system and physicals, which make up a total of $766,797. Chief William Kramer says one thing a lot of people don’t realize the department has to pay for is fire hydrant rentals, which make up $266,000 of the budget.

Kramer also says the department responds to approximately 1,400 emergency calls annually.

“You don’t see many fires in Cinnaminson,” Kramer said. “The reason for that is because we can respond to these incidences quickly and hold that fire in place before it gets ahold of the entire building.”

Until 2014, the Board of Fire Commissioners had six consecutive budgets with no tax increase. The department maintained this by selling outdated equipment, obtaining grants and implementing efficiencies, Kramer said. Due to a reduction in the surplus to offset rising costs, the budgets started to increase incrementally in 2015. This year, the budget will increase 3.7 percent.

“This 3.7 percent increase might sound like a lot, but it actually works out to about $17 per year for the average homeowner,” Kramer said. This number is based off of the average assessed home value in Cinnaminson of $232,200.

Kramer added the Insurance Services Organization is evaluating the department. If the organization decides to improve the department’s classification, which Kramer believes it will, home and business insurance costs will likely decrease. Kramer says he is hopeful the decrease will be enough to offset the budget increase so residents aren’t paying more.

There is also a proposal to move the fire election to the general election in November. Kramer says the Board of Commissioners supports this proposal.