Buoyed by firefighters, Conewago doubles fire tax

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Strinestown Community Fire Company Station 26 was broken into overnight Saturday, August 11, 2018, and the perpetrator dressed in turnout gear and stole Rescue 26 for a joy ride. John A. Pavoncello photo

Two members of the Conewago Board of Supervisors, also members of the Strinestown Community Fire Co., pushed Tuesday night for a proposed tax hike that will double the township's annual special fire tax.

The proposal was approved by a 2-1 vote, doubling the current tax from .13 mills to .26 mills. 

"These guys are getting called out at 1, 2, 3 o'clock in the morning, and sometimes they're out for hours on end," board member and firefighter Brian Klinger said. "That might be Friday night, but then Saturday they have a fundraiser and they're barbecuing chicken for a whole day to make a couple of bucks."

The new tax will go into effect Jan 1. 

Board chairwoman Lorreta Wilhide said a $150,000 house that currently pays $19.50 annually will instead roughly pay $39 after the new tax increase goes into effect.

Supervisors Klinger and Daryl Hull both supported the tax hike. Wilhide opposed it.

Hull is an officer at the Strinestown Community Fire Co.

"I think there's other avenues we can do," Wilhide said. "And when I took office I said, unless I found an absolute need to raise taxes, I would not raise taxes."

According to Hull, the Strinestown department responded to 428 calls in 2018.

He added that a "fair share" of the money that comes from taxes will be used toward the company's truck fund.

Four pieces of fire equipment are more than 16 years old, and the company's second engine is 27 years old.

Hull said the state recommends equipment be replaced every 10 years. 

"With the budget they maintain now, there's no way to replace an engine," Hull said. 

After the vote, Klinger asked residents in attendance for their thoughts on the increase. Those in attendance, roughly 10, did not oppose.

"If everybody in the township would belong to the fire department and help out, we wouldn't have to do this," Hull said. "Anybody that is negative, I say join."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.