• Bill Raines

Oolitic Fire Department Seeks Local Income Tax Revenue - Yearly Fire Contract Discussed

OOLITIC - (APRIL 27, 2022) - The Oolitic Volunteer Fire Department access to local income tax revenue was once again discussed during the Oolitic Town Council meeting on Monday night.

File photo

Annette Norrick Oolitic Clerk-Treasurer have been working with Indiana Department of Local Finance for Local Income Tax Revenue that was requested in March by Fire Chief Ted Maze.

The Oolitic Volunteer receives about $34,752 a year in contract services for fire protection for the Town of Oolitic.

The Oolitic Volunteer Fire Department made a total of 53 responses as of the end of March for fires and emergency medical responses.

Oolitic Fire Chief Ted Maze

Lawrence County volunteer fire department budgets have taken a hit over the last two years during the COVID- pandemic and the CARES Act funding did not go to the county's emergency responders.

The volunteer fire department emergency medical personnel were on the front lines of the pandemic. The volunteer fire departments were on the scene many minutes waiting for out of county ambulance services to arrive and transport the patients to hospitals.

Operating Cost for volunteer fire departments across the county have increased. CARES Act Funding did not provide for Lawrence County's Volunteer Emergency Medical Responders

The volunteer fire emergency medical responders and EMT's are the first on the scene to start lifesaving care.

The costs of fuel, insurance and upkeep of vehicles and equipment continue to rise. Insurance costs alone eat away almost half of the department's budget.

In a March meeting, Maze told council members, " Four years ago we had to beg the town council for the purchase of radios at cost of $4,000. Our department is a 24-hour, 7 day a week operation the only agency in Oolitic that is,"

The fire contract for fire protection services in 2022 has not yet been signed. Greg Pitman advised that funding concerns can be discussed in separate meeting along with the fire contract.

Lawrence County Commissioners told the local volunteer fire departments could not have access to the CARES Act or American Rescue Plan Funds.

Only public safety agencies that were given CARES Act funds included the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department for the purchase of police cars, and Seals Ambulance Service. Marion Township requested grant funding in the amount of $89,000 but were denied that request.

In a recent meeting about the ARPA funds; the fire departments questions about the $8.8 Million the county was to receive went unanswered by the commissioners. The county commissioners are using Baker Tilly as an advisor on how to distribute the funds.

Lawrence County Commissioners and City of Bedford used the CARES - Act funds for stipends for their employees who worked during the pandemic.

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