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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Community Asks Questions About Proposed Fire Territory

BEDFORD - (March 3, 2022) - Residents of both Shawswick and Guthrie Townships attended the second meeting of a three-part public hearing on the proposed Shawswick/ Guthrie Township Fire Territory.

The public hearing is to give taxpayers and residents the opportunity to ask questions, make comments and to express their opinion on the establishment of the fire territory.

During the meeting residents of Guthrie Township were concerned about the increase in property taxes.

Questions were asked about Shawswick Township Fire Department Insurance Services Organization (ISO Rating) fire protection rating for the area. One resident telling officials his insurance company states there is no fire protection in Shawswick Township. At this time, it is not known whether the 24-Hour fire protection coverage will affect the rating.

The fire department staffing will have 4 four firefighters on station at a time. Two for the fire service, and two for the BLS Ambulance. The shifts will be 12 - Hour shifts, with the firefighters being considered part-time firefighters.

Questions in regard to the level of ambulance service coverage the department will be providing were raised. As well as the billing service for the new ambulance service was also questioned. The ambulance will be certified through the State of Indiana as a BLS Transport provider, with a billing service hired to distribute bills.

The fire department will work with the other two ambulance services in providing coverage.

Shawswick Township residents expressed concerns about paying additional taxes for an ambulance service in the township; but the ambulance responding to other area in Lawrence County was also addressed during the meeting.

(From left to right - Brad Bough, Bedford City Council, Rodney Fish, Lawrence County Commissioner, Wally Branham, Lawrence County Commissioner, and Dustin Gabhart attended the meeting at Shawswick Township Fire Department)

Lawrence County Commissioners Dustin Gabhart, Wally Branham, and Rodney Fish attended this evening's meeting. Lawrence County Council member Rick Butterfield and Bedford City Council member Brad Bough was present.

Many candidates from the Lawrence County Council races attended this evening's meeting which included Jeff McKnight, Justin Grant and Phil Inman.

Members of the Shawswick Fire Department Board, Shawswick Township Trustee / Advisory Board, Guthrie Township Advisory Board and representatives from Reedy Financial Group P.C. advised those in attendance about the proposed Shawswick/Guthrie Township Fire Territory and answered questions on tax revenues and impacts.

(Shawswick/Guthrie Fire Territory the Sunny Acres Drive Fire Station will be manned with four fighters and a dedicated ambulance for Lawrence County)

According to Bobby Brown Fire Chief of the Shawswick Township Fire Department the process started about eight years ago. Brown who has served more than 41 years on the fire department told those in attendance it's to sustain fire protection and ambulance service in Lawrence County.

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Shawswick Volunteer Fire Department took over fire protection for Guthrie Township back in 2016.

Over the last three years the run volume for the fire department has hit a peak of 550 runs in 2019, 640 runs 2020, and 703 runs in 2021. " These runs are not all attributed to COVID-19 but has cost the department a lot of money to supply masks, gloves and suits to protect personnel from EMS responses.

Proud sponsor of the Lawrence County Zephyr

Cost of fire engines now are $400,000 to $500,000 with fire trucks alone, without any fire hoses or other equipment on the trucks. Firefighting protection gear includes, $3,500 in turn-out gear, $9,000 for SCBA 's and the equipment must be replaced every ten years by mandated regulations. The replacement of tires on fire engines is now mandatory every seven years. The fire territory has budgeted for these types of expenditures.

The fire protection plan calls for the staffing of four full time firefighters who are also either an emergency medical responder, or EMT. One EMT must be on duty at all times to staff an ambulance that will be housed at the 1327 Sunny Acres Fire Station.

Proud sponsor of the Lawrence County Zephyr

The proposed fire territory will have an impact on taxpayers in both Shawswick and Guthrie Townships.

Proposed Fire Territory tax impact:

General Fund: Budget: $673,290 Tax Levy: $630,000 Projected Tax Rate: - .2493

Cumulative Fire Fund: Budget: $78,000 Tax Levy: $84,139 Projected Tax Rate: .0333

Debt Fund: Budget: $82,800 Tax Levy: $89,872 Projected Tax Rate: .0356

Totals: Budget: $834,090 Tax Levy: $804,011 Projected Tax Rate: .3182

Taxpayers Monthly Impact

Residential - $50,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $1.76 Guthrie Twp. $1.95

Residential - $100,000 Assessed Value Shawsick Twp. $5.76 Guthrie Twp. $6.40

Residential - $150,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $11.47 Guthrie Twp. $12.75

Agriculture - $100,0000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $17.57 Guthrie Twp. $19.54

Agriculture - $200,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $35.15 Guthrie Twp. $39.08

Agriculture - $250,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $43,93 Guthrie Twp. $48.86

Commercial - $100,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $17.57 Guthrie Twp. $19.54

Commercial -$200,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $35.15 Guthrie Twp. $39.08

Commercial - $300,000 Assessed Value Shawswick Twp. $52.72 Guthrie Twp. $58.63

Projected Overlapping Unit Impact on Local Income Tax

Lawrence County Impact from Local Income Tax - loss of $51,201

Bono Township - loss of $48

Guthrie Township - loss of $16,809

Indian Creek Township - loss of $281

Marion Township -loss of $874

Marshall Township - loss of $496

Perry Township -loss of $189

Pleasant Run Township - loss of $271

Shawswick Township - gain of $112,611

Spice Valley Township - loss of $273

Bedford Civil City - loss of $45,234

Mitchell Civil City - loss of $7,247

Oolitic Civil Town - loss of $765

North Lawrence Community School Corporation - Loss of $5,273

Mitchell Community Schools - loss of $2,833

Bedford Public Library - loss of $6,620

Mitchell Community Public Library - Loss of $1,718

Lawrence County Solid Waste District - $6,197


The Shawswick/Guthrie Township Fire Territory debt service will help purchase an ambulance for the fire department.

The next hearing will be held on March 21, at 6:30 p.m. at 1327 Sunny Acres Drive and Monday March 21, 6:30 p.m. at the same location.

Once the public hearings are held, a adoption of the fire territory will be held by both Shawswick and Guthrie Township advisory boards to adopt a resolution for the fire territory.

The fire territory will become active on January 1, 2023, should both legislative bodies accept the proposal.

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