DYER | Officials from Tri-Town and surrounding communities are discussing the pros and cons of creating a fire territory.
Representatives from Munster, Dyer, Schererville, St. John, St. John Township and the Lake Hills Fire Department gathered at Dyer Town Hall recently to hear a presentation by consultant John Julien during a special study session called by the Dyer Town Council.
Dyer called the meeting to explore a possible funding option for fire protection services, Town Council member Jeff Dekker said.
A fire territory can be organized by at least two contiguous municipal entities, Julien said. One of the municipalities takes the lead as the provider unit and all entities involved pay an identical tax levy geared to fund fire services.
According to statute, participating communities must begin the process by adopting identical ordinances between Jan. 1 and April 1 of a calendar year. They must also hold at least three public hearings.
The advantages of a fire territory include sharing buildings, equipment, labor, materials and training, which can help participants control or lower costs. However, it might also increase tax rates for some members of the territory while lowering tax rates for others.
"We're glad you’re here to provide an option,” Schererville Clerk-Treasurer Janice Malinowski said. Schererville has been dealing with a frozen tax levy since 2007, she said, “and one of these days we’re going to have a fire and we may not have (the facilities) to take care of it. We’ve got to have an option."
Munster Town Manager Tom DeGuilio, who was present when Munster and Highland discussed a fire protection territory several years ago, said that if area communities wanted to pursue the idea, they likely would not be able to come to terms on it this coming year.