Fire territory vote Tuesday

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Proposed South Madison Fire Territory.

PENDLETON — After years of discussion and a series of three public hearings since January, Pendleton and Fall Creek and Green townships are just days away from voting on the creation of South Madison Fire Territory.

The vote will take place during a public meeting set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at Pendleton Town Hall, 100 W. State St.

The town and both townships must approve the creation of the territory for it to pass.

As explained during the hearings, the fire territory, if approved, would be phased in over several years and would serve an area about 10 miles east to west and seven miles north to south in southwest Madison County.

It would become a paid firefighter department augmented with volunteers instead of the all-volunteer force it is now.

Pendleton Fire Chief Chris Nodine has been sharing widely that the territory is needed to provide top ‘round-the-clock fire protection services in the face of twin challenges: population growth and a drop in the number of volunteers.

Paige Sansone, a consultant with Indianapolis-based Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors, said the funding requirements for the territory during the proposed three-year phase-in are $2,115,400 in 2023, $5,141,216 in 2024, and $6,636,302 in 2025.

The funding sources — comprised of property taxes, local income tax, contractual payments from Ingalls and vehicle excise taxes — are estimated to be $2,135,958 in 2023; $4,485,828 in 2024 and $5,638,105 in 2025.

The shortfalls between the territory’s funding requirements and the estimated funding sources in 2024 and 2025, if they materialize, would be addressed through the budgeting process.

Property tax increases vary depending on factors such as a property’s taxing district and whether a property is at its tax cap.

One example Sansone gave was a residentail home with a $100,000 assessed valuation in Fall Creek Township Taxing District 12. If not at the 1% tax cap, that property would see maximum tax increases of 7.7% in 2023, 12.9% in 2024 and 5% in 2025. That would amount to increases of $50 in 2023, $90 in 2024 and $40 in 2025.

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