2 Septembers, 1987 (~estimated)
Volunteer lack could hike taxes in the Princetons
By Barbara Preston
Taxpayers in the Princetons would spend between 30 and 45 percent More in local taxes annually if Princeton’s volunteer fire department has to switch to a paid company, according to tax collectors in the two municipalities.
Firefighters and First Aid Squad members begin their recruitment drive for new volunteers this week. Meanwhile, some ponder the feasibility of paying workers to staff two of Princeton’s most critical services.
If Princeton’s firefighters do not recruit enough volunteers this month, into taxpayers may be forced Into paying for the crucial service, :according to Fire Chief Kenneth Rendall III.
There would also be a huge increase in taxes, borough Fire Commissioner Mark Freda said. It would cost Princeton taxpayers between $1.6 million and $2.2 million to pay for fire services, he added. Township and borough tax collectors say the tax increase would be —very significant.”
Princeton Township local tax ;would increase by 30 percent while ‘Princeton Borough local tax would increase by 45 percent, the tax collectors said.
Both would have an additional $1.1 million added to the municipalities annual budgets if it costs $2.2 million to pay firefighters.
The local tax rate in Princeton Township would increase from 49 cents per $100 of assessed real estate valuation to about 64 cents, or by 30 percent, tax collector John Clawson Jr. said.
Township homeowner’s’ total tax rate, which includes local, county and school taxes, would increase from $2.78 per $100 of assessed real estate valuation to $2.93, Mr. Clawson said.
If Princeton Borough added $1.1 million to its annual budget, the local tax would increase by 45 percent, borough tax collector Decimus Marsh said.
The local tax would increase from 57 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation to 83 cents. he said. Borough homeowner’s’ total tax rate, including local, county and school taxes would increase from $2.94 per $100 of assessed real estate valuation to $3.20, Mr. Marsh said.
Trenton has the only paid fire company in Mercer County, Chief ) Rendall said. He said he would hate ; to see Princeton’s Volunteer Fire – Company switch to a paid service.
“We are having a 200-year anniversary next year,” he said. “That is 200 years of volunteer service.”
Chief Rendall said he would like to see about 36 men or women volunteer to be firefighters.
“It’s hard work but it’s a matter of pride,” he said. “The easy way out is to go paid.”
He hopes the fire department will find some new recruits but he said he , doubts it will be 36.
Already two men have signed up, he said.
The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad need as many new members as it can get, President David Cromwell said.
“A lot of people can’t handle First Aid Squad work,” he said. “Many reach a point were they see so much pain and suffering they can’t take it anymore.”
It is “critical” that the First Aid Squad get new members, otherwise the municipality will have to foot the bill, Mr. Cromwell said.
The First Aid Squad averages about four calls per day, but there are days with no calls and days when there are 10 calls, he said. There are few incentives, he added.
“We don’t give tax breaks and it takes quite a commitment,” Mr. Cromwell said. “The main incentive is helping people.”
Mr. Freda said there are no financial rewards on either the fire department or the First Aid Squad.
“The reward is (a) tremendous rush of feeling that you just made a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “It is finding a heart attack victim who is blue and cold and bringing him back to life.”
On Sept. 26, fire equipment will be placed in the Community Park Pool parking lot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., township Fire Commissioner Thomas Poole said.
Firefighters will parade down Nassau Street with their equipment at 5 p.m.