Washington Township taxes going up; Hamblen’s might also

Property taxes are going up next year in Washington Township to benefit the Brown County (Nashville) Volunteer Fire Department.

The township board has voted to more than double the rate it charges to support the cumulative fire fund, which is spent on firefighting equipment and other capital needs, like buildings.

The fire department has had its eye on a new truck for more than a year, and this tax increase will help pay for it, Washington Township Trustee Brandon Magner said.

The new rate for the cumulative fund will be 3 cents per $100 of assessed property value, or about $30 per year for a property worth $100,000.

In addition to paying taxes to the township for fire protection and poor relief, Washington Township property owners also pay taxes to the county, school district, library district and solid waste district. On taxes due this year, all of those amounted to $1.17 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The current cumulative fund rate, of 1.3 cents per $100 of assessed value, raised about $33,000 per year for the fire department. Magner estimated the new rate would raise about $80,000 a year.

He said the estimate on this new truck — a multipurpose vehicle to respond to accident scenes and fires — is about $440,000. The township plans to put down about $200,000 it has on hand and will finance the rest, he said.

The new, 3-cent rate will not apply to Nashville property owners, only to Washington Township property owners, Magner said.

For the current tax year, the fire department is getting a total of about 1.6 cents in taxes per $100 of property value from Washington Township property owners. The vast majority goes into the cumulative fire fund; less than a half-cent per $100 goes into the general firefighting fund which is used to pay bills such as electricity for the station.

The fire department also gets property tax money from town residents. Half of Nashville’s 5-cent-per-$100 cumulative capital development property tax goes to the fire department, and the town also pays the fire department about $12,000 per year in a fire protection contract.

With this tax increase — and by raising the amount the township pays for its fire protection contract this year — “this should be the first time in probably my lifetime that operating expenses will be covered with tax funding, so they won’t have to fundraise to keep the doors open,” Magner said. “That’s something that was important to me that we try to work for, that we can at least keep the doors open and not have to sell fish sandwiches.”

However, firefighters will probably still sell their sandwiches on the courthouse lawn this fall, he said.

Washington Township taxpayers have 30 days from publication to remonstrate against the tax increase. It was published in the May 31 paper.

Taking into account all taxes, the Nashville fire department has the second-highest tax rates supporting it, behind the Hamblen Fire Protection District.

Hamblen Township also plans to ask taxpayers for more money for its cumulative fund next year, so it can buy a new engine to replace two older trucks that were prone to breakdowns. Its fire protection board will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at the Hamblen fire station.

Initial estimates were that Hamblen’s fire protection tax rate would go up by 1 cent, but bank calculations weren’t final yet. Hamblen’s total tax rate for fire protection is currently 6.6 cents per $100.

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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.