Clermont Rescinds Tax Rate to Help Fire Contract

(posted Sept 13)

Within six weeks of its adoption, the Clermont Town Council voted to rescind the cumulative firefighting building and equipment tax rate at its September 11 meeting.

Starting in 2009, Clermont taxpayers would have been levied a tax rate of .0333 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to help pay for the fire service contract with Wayne Township. The council's about face was brought about by HEA 1001 and not the large public opposition expressed at the July 28 meeting. Despite the council's approval, remonstrators continued to fight by submitting petitions to the Department of Local Government Finance urging the agency not to approve the council's resolution.

President Bob Hinshaw explained Wayne Township recommended the council adopt the tax rate to assist paying for the township's fire contract. He said the township has made it clear that in 2009 every taxpayer would pay the same rate. As of date, Wayne Township taxpayers pay more than Clermont residents for fire service. However, some Clermont residents only see the cost of fire services increasing from $80,000 to $360,000 since 2006. It has been resident Linda Lucas' complaint that Clermont does not have that many fires for the bill to be escalating.

Town Attorney Robert Lutz said the cumulative firefighting building and equipment fund was initially outside the levy that would have raised additional revenue for the town, but that changed for towns with the passage of HEA 1001. The law did not change the township cumulative firefighting building and equipment tax rate. It remained outside the levy.

Hinshaw contended the tax rate being placed inside the levy would now make Clermont taxpayers pay more than their fair share for fire service. The tax rate would be in addition to the general fund that also pays for the fire contract. The Department of Local Government finance will be notified of the council's action to drop the fund.

Clerk Treasurer Kathy Arauco said the town received $118,000 of the 2007 tax distributions and will pay the remainder of the 2007 fire contract. Lutz recommended that any funds left over from the 2008 budget be transferred to the Rainy Day fund to prepare for the drop in tax revenue due to the tax caps instituted by HEA 1001.

The council also approved of Williams Construction's bid to repair Tansel Road, Key Lane, Railroad Road, and Log Run. Quotes ranged from $16,630 for Williams Constructional to $24,597 Grady Brothers' $24,000. Councilor Vonda Kiger opposed the project. She recommended taking one street at a time to do a complete mill and resurfacing, instead of doing "hodge podge" repairs covering many streets.