Volunteer fire companies across the country are noticing a decrease in community volunteers at an alarming rate while experiencing an increase in operating expenses and call volume. More than 90% of Pennsylvania’s nearly 2,400 fire departments are volunteer which save Pennsylvania taxpayers an estimated 10 BILLION Dollars each year! There were approximately 300,000 volunteer fire fighters in Pennsylvania in the 1970s compared to less than 38,000 today. Here in Weisenberg Township our dedicated volunteer firefighters are facing the same trend. As a result, the Weisenberg Township Board of Supervisors has decided to join a growing list of communities and establish a fire tax in order to provide stable financial assistance to the Weisenberg Volunteer Fire Department starting in 2020.
The Board of Supervisors recognizes the importance of supporting the Volunteer Fire Dept. They also recognize that the township’s expenses are increasing as well. The township has always been the fire department’s largest contributor and was able to provide financial support by diverting funds away from the public works equipment fund and contributing much of the transfer tax revenue received from the sale of the warehouses along I-78 for construction of the fire station and purchase of fire equipment. This is no longer feasible; with the industrial parks being nearly built out, additional revenue from the sale of the buildings has slowed. As is the case with fire department expenses, township road equipment and infrastructure maintenance costs continue to rise. Having a stable fire department funding source will allow the fire department to maintain its high level of emergency response service that our community has grown to expect. It also means that we can assure that our volunteers have the resources to keep them as safe as possible. The separate fire tax will allow the township to focus its tax revenues on road maintenance and equipment replacement as was originally intended.
A well trained and well equipped fire department has resulted in an improved ISO rating for our community which equates to lower insurance premiums for property owners.
The township will establish a .44 mil fire tax in order to decrease the burden placed on our volunteers and will allow them to focus more on training and serving the community. Approximately 1/3 of the tax revenue will be used to cover the majority of the department’s operating expenses as well as support the volunteer firefighter retention program. The remaining revenue will be put into a capital savings plan to support future apparatus purchases, equipment replacements / upgrades, station repairs, etc. The fire department’s supporting membership will continue to run various fundraisers such as hoagie sales and the department’s yearly fund drive which solicits tax deductible contributions. The department will also continue applying for state and federal grants in order to offset expenses.
The .44 mil fire tax will be included as a line item on your yearly local real-estate tax bill which is mailed every spring. The cost per property owner will vary depending on how much your property is assessed. The .44 mil rate = $44.00 per every $100,000.00 of assessed value.
-18 acre vacant farmland with a taxable assessed value of $14,800.00 = $6.51 Fire Tax
-A 2-3 bedroom home on 1 acre with a taxable assessed value of $175,000.00 = $77.00 Fire Tax
-A 4-5 bedroom home on 1 acre with a taxable assessed value of $290,000.00 = $127.60 Fire Tax
-A commercial business with a taxable assessed value of $1,250,000.00 = $550.00 Fire Tax
-A large commercial warehouse with a taxable assessed value of $44,766,400.00 = $19,697.22 Fire Tax
While this revenue will ensure that the volunteer fire department can purchase the necessary equipment and cover their operating expenses they still require community members to volunteer their time. Weisenberg Township has approximately 5,000 residents but only about 30 residents volunteer as fire fighters and about 20 volunteer as supporting members. Our community is very fortunate to have this many dedicated volunteers as many of our surrounding fire departments have much fewer. However, our volunteers have hectic jobs and various other commitments. Many also have children that are involved in multiple activities. The more volunteers that the fire department has, the easier it is for everyone. More community members that are willing to volunteer would decrease the workload of our current dedicated volunteers. Training is provided at no cost and there is no minimum required time commitment. All equipment is provided at no cost and various incentives are available. Junior fire fighters can join at age 14 and you’re never too old. There are many tasks to perform at a volunteer fire department including firefighting, community education, equipment and building maintenance, general housekeeping, fundraising, etc. As stated above, volunteers save Pennsylvania taxpayers approximately 10 BILLION Dollars each year! Please consider volunteering today.
For more information please contact Weisenberg Township at 610-285-6660 or visit weisenbergtownship.org or weisenbergfire.com
STOPPING FOR SCHOOL BUSES
With the school year in full swing we would like to remind motorist of the rules of bus stop safety.
When you see flashing YELLOW lights on a school bus this means slow down and be prepaired for the bus to stop for school student at a bus stop. When you meet or come upon a stopped school bus with RED flashing lights and arm extenedm YOU MUST STOP. You must stop at least 10 feet away from a school bus.
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Winter is ideal time to test for this naturally occurring radioactive gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages Pennsylvanians to start off the new year by conducting a simple test of their homes for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Winter is a good time to test in the commonwealth because doors and windows are closed, providing more accurate results.
“Because of our geology, nearly every county in the commonwealth has locations of high radon levels, putting Pennsylvanians at risk of exposure,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “A radon test is a great way to protect yourself and your family. Fortunately, testing your home for radon is as simple as opening a can, and inexpensive do-it-yourself tests are available at hardware and home stores.”
“Radon is a leading cause of lung cancer in Pennsylvania,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Since we know that radon is prevalent in homes across Pennsylvania, it is important to test your home. It is a simple step you can take to protect your family’s health.”
Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that occurs from the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings. As a result, high levels of radon tend to be found in basements, but the gas can be found anywhere in the home.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set 4 picocuries of radon per liter (pCi/L) of air as an Action Level. If your radon level is higher than this, EPA, DEP, and the U.S. Surgeon General recommend having a radon mitigation system professionally installed to lower it. Typically consisting of a pipe and exhaust fan, the system will vent radon to the outside.
All radon testers, mitigators, and laboratories in Pennsylvania must be certified by DEP, which provides a public list of certified radon service providers. People can also obtain a hard copy or verify a company’s certification by calling DEP at 800-23RADON (800-237-2366).
DEP will send free follow-up test kits to Pennsylvanians who’ve tested their homes and have results higher than 100 pCi/L or who’ve installed an active mitigation system in the past year.
Compared with the associated risk of lung cancer, a radon reduction system is very affordable, generally in the price range of other common home improvements.
Having a system installed will also make the future sale of your home easier. If you’re building a new home, DEP recommends installing a passive radon system during construction. There is no reliable way to test the ground in advance for radon, and the cost of installing the radon system during construction is typically much less than installing one after the fact.
For people buying or selling a home, Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Seller Disclosure Act requires sellers to disclose the results of any known radon testing. The DEP website lists radon testing options for real estate transactions.
DEP provides several downloadable radon publications and is posting radon tips on Facebook and Twitter and airing a public service announcement throughout January, National Radon Action Month.
For more information, please contact the DEP Radon Division via phone at 800-237-2366 or 717-783-3594, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEDIA CONTACT: Deb Klenotic, 717-783-9954
Weisenberg Township is now in the Quarantine Area for Spotted Lanternfly. Attached is a map supplied to us from Lehigh County.
Would you like to learn more about this invasive insect?
*Why should you be concerned?
*What is the biology and life cycle?
*How does the quarantine order affect residents?
*What can you do to help?
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Lehigh County Conservation District has a supply of sticky tree bands available for residential use. LCCD also offers education training for community groups and homeowners. To learn more please contact LCCD @ 610-391-9583.