Town-township fire territory idea hasn’t progressed yet

The town and the Nashville volunteer fire department are still interested in looking at a way to pay firefighters, but they haven’t yet approached any other government units to move it forward.

The notion of forming a fire territory between the town and Washington Township was discussed at a committee meeting in March.

At the April 21 town council meeting, no vote was taken, but three council members said they were either in favor of it or would be interested in talking more about it.

Forming a fire territory would allow the town and the township to levy a tax. That money would be used to pay firefighters to staff the Nashville station during weekdays, when volunteers are least available to respond.

The Brown County (Nashville) station is in a volunteer crisis in general, Chief Dallas “Dak” Kelp said. Only five active firefighters remain, he told the council. At least four are needed to make an attack on a burning building.

Kelp’s hope is that paying firefighters will also attract more volunteers who would supplement the paid staff and may snag one of the paid jobs.

To make the funding work, the town and township would need to form the fire territory together, Kelp said. The estimated additional charge to property taxpayers would be 6 to 8 cents per $100 of assessed property value, he said.

However, the township is already part of the Brown County Fire Protection District. So if the township board wants to partner with the town, it will have to ask the county commissioners to let Washington Township out of the county fire district first.

Town council member Arthur Omberg planned to approach the township board.

Town council President “Buzz” King urged the public to “look into assisting the fire department every way we can,” including volunteering.

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.