Warren, Salamonie Township squabble over fire truck funding

Differences over money between the town of Warren and Salamonie Township have crossed over to a fire truck purchase.

According to a letter read aloud by Warren Town Council President Bill Cartwright dur-ing a June 29 Town Council meeting, Warren can put up its share.

"Town monies are budgeted for a truck purchase and are within various budgets of the town. Those monies in the cumulative fire fund are set aside solely for a fire truck purchase," Cartwright read.

Traditionally, the Warren/Salamonie Township Fire Department has been funded jointly by the town of Warren and Salamonie Township.

The township and the council wrote a joint letter to help the department determine how much time it might take to be able to purchase a new truck.

The letter says making a "proper purchase" will not be "feasible" for another three to four years.

Jim Asher, from the Warren Fire Department, says he has already waited that long to hear from Jim Howell, the Salamonie Township trustee, on funding. Asher says Howell has told him he will base his answer on the amount of available grants, but the fire depart-ment can't get grants without knowing upfront how much the town and township can contribute.

"Jim has based his answers off of grants, so if we wait on grants to get an answer from Jim, we are fighting against each other," says Asher.

He also says the fire department will not know how much money it needs unless they ap-ply.

"Somebody has to (provide) upfront money for it, and that (has become) part of the discussion ... all of it goes together," says Marilyn Morrison, the Warren clerk-treasurer.

Howell says funding for such a purchase comes from taxes and grants.

"Property tax is the primary source," he says, adding that the "tax base is not increasing."

"We've been pursuing opportunities but haven't been able to lock on (to anything)," Howell says, referring to grants available in northeastern Indiana.

He also says that the township bought a new pumper in 1997 and the price for that was $178,000. Now Howell says the prices have "skyrocketed" to around $450,000 to upgrade the pumper.

He agrees with the town, saying he doesn't see a new truck purchase for another couple of years, but Asher says he can't wait that long.

"I'm going to say this in front of the board. In the next three years, that 1964 pumper we have is a ticking time bomb. It's waiting to go," Asher says.

Cartwright says the discussion on the new pumper is over for the time being.