Sellersville officials say that local volunteer firefighters provide an essential safety service at a fraction of the cost of a full-time paid firefighting department.
Still, the expense of running a volunteer company is nonetheless significant. Constant fundraising efforts by the volunteers help, officials say, but the firefighters need a more consistent source of income.
That’s why Sellersville Borough Council voted Monday to implement a new 3-mill fire protection tax in 2020. The tax is expected to raise $116,000 to support fire protection next year.
“The Sellersville Fire Department is all volunteer, and other than some funding that the borough contributes and some state funding, all of the rest of their money is raised through donations from the public and fundraising events such as dinners,” said Sellersville Borough Manager David Rivet.
“Fire equipment and firefighting supplies are very expensive, as are the usual expenses required to maintain a large facility, including liability insurance and upkeep of the facility,” Rivet continued. “Fundraising activities to support these aspects of the department, in addition to firefighting demands, is putting a strain on the time of these community-minded volunteers. Most of the work falls on the same dedicated group of individuals.
“A more reliable funding source is needed to support this valuable, and necessary, operation.”
All total, Sellersville’s local real estate property tax will now be 27 mills next year – up from 24 mills in 2019.
A mill is equal to $1 of every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. To calculate the municipal tax on a Sellersville property, multiply the assessed value of the property by 27 and then divide by 1,000.
For example, a Sellersville property assessed at $30,000 would owe $810 in annual municipal real estate taxes in 2020.
As part of establishing the local property tax rate for 2020, Borough Council also approved the annual budget that will fuel municipal operations and initiatives for next year.
The budget’s expenses total about $3.93 million – a tally that includes expenses related to fire protection, sewer service and the “general fund.” The general fund, with expenses at about $2.74 million, pays for essentials that include borough administration, police protection and more.
Rivet noted that, in 2020, Sellersville plans to use a grant of $122,500 to help pay for a trail rehabilitation and handicap access improvement project at Lenape Park. Work is expected to begin next summer.
Meanwhile, Sellersville also plans to repave Nanlyn Avenue, Township Road and Chadwyck Circle next year at an estimated cost of $262,000.