Wayne Trustee Disputes City Councilor's Comments

(posted Apr 4)

Wayne Township Trustee David Baird wants it known that the township's fire tax rate is not 73 cents per $100 assessed valuation as City County Councilor Robert Lutz has stated. Baird said the tax rates have not been certified, so there is no official number. Baird said he has checked with the auditor, treasurer, and Department of Local Government Finance, and none of those departments could report a certified tax rate. Baird was responding to statements Lutz made during his quarterly town hall meeting March 25.

Baird blames the township's fire costs on the City County Council for not obtaining County Option Income Tax funds, which he estimates at $3.3 million, for the township. He contends the reason the city's fire rate is lower is because their budget includes only personnel, not capital improvements or equipment.

Lutz said "To the best of my knowledge David (Baird) is correct the rate has not been certified. The rate could fluctuate up or down depending on the final numbers for assessed valuation and the final approval of the various taxing entities proposed budgets. That number was given to me on March 10 by the city controller." Lutz requested tax rates for Wayne-outside fire and IFD. Wayne's rate was reported as 73 cents / $100 and IFD's at 28 cents / $100. "While I did not specifically ask Mr. Reynolds at the time he gave me those numbers, it is my understanding the number is based on the budget submissions by the entities."

"In the interests of full disclosure it is also true that you cannot necessarily compare the rates as apples to apples because IFD gets public safety COIT which Wayne does not, and that has the affect of, for lack of a better term, artificially lowering IFD's fire tax rate. So if IFD was not receiving the public safety COIT its fire rate would be higher. If Wayne was getting public safety COIT its rate would also be lower."

"IFD is getting the public safety COIT and Wayne is not and that is something that the general assembly did to both Wayne and the township taxpayers, and unfortunately the township taxpayers are saddled with the tax bill. Mr. Baird sent the council a letter asking us to do something about this inequity. I wish we could, but the way the public safety COIT was passed it goes only to cities and towns and not townships and the City County Council has no authority to change what the legislature passes."

"But the long and the short of it is that Wayne Township taxpayers are paying far more for fire protection than they should. We are in a totally different situation than we were three years ago. We now have three township fire departments that have or are in the process of merging with IFD. What has taken place in Washington Township and Warren Township and now Perry shows us that consolidating the fire services can work. Have all the kinks been worked out? No, but when looking at the current cost to the taxpayers I do not see the continued advantage to the property taxpayers of Wayne Township outside of maintaining its own fire department."

City Controller David Reynolds said "Wayne Twp's budget documents project a 2009 tax rate of $0.9443. I believe when the numbers are worked by DLGF (the state) the 2009 tax rate will be $0.7284."