Pleasant Township May Have to Raise Taxes to Pay for Fire/EMS Service Co-Op if Extended Past Dec. 31

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PLEASANT TWP, Pa. – Pleasant Township taxes could raise if the cooperative agreement between the Township and the City of Warren for Fire/EMS Services is extended and expanded after the current agreement runs out Dec. 31, 2020. 

That is what Township Supervisor Andy Brooks said might happen after Jan. 1, 2021, if the pilot program in place between the Township and the City of Warren where Warren provides a pair of Firefighters/EMS personnel during the week for the Township.

“Do we want to raise taxes? Because we might have to do that,”  Brooks said at the Tuesday, Oct. 27, council meeting. “We don’t know where it will go after Jan. 1. Several different city council members have different interpretations of what has to happen.”

Brooks’ comments came during a discussion at the meeting about the future of the agreement and how the township will pay for it.

The pilot program, which started Sept. 1, was recently approved by the Warren City Council to expand from three days to five days per week, in which the City of Warren provides two of its full-time employees to Pleasant Township between 7:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Monday-Friday. The pilot program runs through Dec. 31, 2020. Pleasant Township Supervisors said they will approve that expansion once a typo is corrected. 

But what happens after Dec. 31, is anyone’s guess.

“We’re still kind of up in the air,” Pleasant Township Chairman Arden Knapp said regarding the future of the program beyond Dec. 31. “We want to see the numbers.”

Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Johnson said data is still being collected, and they hope to have more definitive financial numbers soon. 

“We don’t have any financial numbers yet,” Johnson said. “We don’t know anything about billing. That takes about 60-90 days for something to come in on that.”

Warren Fire Chief Rodney Wren previously told yourdailylocal.com the City is charging the Township $416 per day ($26 per hour per firefighter/EMS) for the service which comes out to $2,080 for a five-day week or roughly $108,160 over the course of a full 52-week year.

Johnson said there is a fire tax in the township that is used for equipment, and that money from that tax would go toward the program if approved.

“That’s what that taxpayer money goes toward is apparatus, equipment,” Johnson said. “The fire department is self-sufficient. The fire tax pays our insurance and fuel. We are mostly self-sufficient from the township.”

Pleasant Township resident Ed Dorunda asked during public comment if there is a firm plan in place between the city and township.

“Is there a format that’s been approved between the township and city for monies coming in between the fire department and taxpayers?” Dorunda asked.

Brooks said the funds get mixed.

“The money comes to the volunteers, at least from this project,” Brooks said. “That money they collect is just less money the township has to pay for equipment, etc.

“If we decide to go forward, we’ll have to work out where that money goes to, where it comes from. Tax money goes into the fund now, for equipment. We’d be using money now to pay for this pilot program.”