Monroe County auditor Cathy Smith addressed commissioners as a resident of Van Buren Township. Sept. 18, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Left in the frame is Monroe Fire Protection District chief Dustin Dillard. Sept. 18, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
From left: Van Buren Township trutee, Rita Barrow and Blooington Township trustee, Kim Alexander. Sept. 18, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Bloomington Township resident Richard Martin. Sept. 18, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
County commissioners (from left) Lee Jones, Julie Thomas and Penny Githens. Sept. 18, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
The unincorporated areas of Bloomington and Van Buren townships will be a part of the Monroe Fire Protection District (MFPD) starting Jan. 1, 2021, about 15 months from now. That’s the result of a unanimous vote by Monroe County’s three commissioners at their regular meeting on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s action by the commissioners included establishing a new, five-member composition of the fire district’s board, starting in 2021. County attorney Jeff Cockerill said at Wednesday’s meeting that it will be the commissioners will appoint fire district board members.
The governing body of the district, which will set the rate of the fire levy, will include one member each from Perry, Clear Creek, Indian Creek, Van Buren, and Bloomington townships.
Two agenda items appear for a second reading and final vote on the Bloomington’s city council’s agenda for Wednesday.
One is an appropriation ordinance for Bloomington Transit buses—BT won some competitive federal grants totaling $900,000. That makes the ordinance amount about $1.13 million because of the 20-percent local share that BT will need to contribute towards the cost of the three new buses—two for its BT Access para-transit service and one for the fixed-route service. The fixed-route service bus is a battery electric bus. All three buses are replacement vehicles, not part of a fleet expansion. [Previous Beacon coverage: 12]
The second agenda item is one piece of the approvals the city council will need to make for the allocation of public safety local income tax funds. The income tax rate of 0.25 percent is estimated to generate about $8.65 million countywide. On Wednesday, the council will be asked to approve $389,461 worth of funding from that tax revenue—it’s the portion that goes to “qualified service providers.” In practical terms, that means the money will go to a half dozen different fire departments in the county.
On Thursday night, Monroe Fire Protection District chief Dustin Dillard addressed a handful of Bloomington Township residents at a meeting held at the fire station on Old State Road 37.
Bloomington Township is not yet a part of the the fire district Dillard leads, which is made up of three townships in the southwest part of Monroe County—Perry, Clear Creek and Indian Creek. It was just at the start of this year that Indian Creek was added as a member.
A current proposal is to add two more townships to the mix. One is in the southwest corner of the county—Van Buren Township. The other is the unincorporated part of Bloomington Township, which would make it the first area north of the county’s midline to become a member of the Monroe Fire Protection District.
Among the benefits described at the meeting for adding two townships to the district are: protection of the tax levy from annexations by the City of Bloomington; an initial lowering the tax rate for residents of Bloomington Township (but it would increase in the second and third years); administration of county fire departments under one umbrella; and the distribution of expenses over a larger tax base.