Bethel Park residents should amend home rule charter

Published Mar 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm (Updated Mar 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm)

L ike South Fayette’s proposed $8 per month garbage collection fee, Bethel Park residents are up in arms about the possibility of a .34 millage tax that will be used to fund Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company’s annual operating costs and construction of a new fire station. The .34 mill tax amounts to $34 per $100,000 in value of property tax. And, according to Allegheny County assessments, the average home value in Bethel Park is $142,000.

That amounts to an annual tax of $48.28 for the average home in the municipality.

In both instances, the proposed fee/tax is not coming out of nowhere – South Fayette planned on using the money generated to pave and improve its roads. Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company has exhausted other options, including fundraising, to obtain the necessary money. It’s worth noting that only 35 percent of Bethel’s households and a mere 10 percent of its businesses contribute to the fire company.

In both instances, the extra money shouldn’t be something that residents have to rearrange their budgets or make other spending cuts to be able to afford.

However, it proved to be too much for South Fayette, which decided not to impose the minor fee.

The Fire Company recently held its first public meeting on the matter, and will hold another on April 18 at Brightwood Fire Station – an opportunity for residents to voice concerns and have questions on the proposal answered. The proposed referendum will be put to a vote on the May primary ballot, and we encourage residents of Bethel Park to amend the home rule charter and add the tax. After all, the services of an all-volunteer fire company are not something that a municipality or borough should be without.

Imagine the potential property devastation that could occur in the precious extra minutes that it would take another borough’s fire department to arrive to the scene. Imagine the extra pressure that would be put on neighboring fire companies if the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company ceased to be.

And, most importantly, imagine the lives that could be lost without the quick emergency response.

Are these things worth .34 mills? $48.28? We certainly think they are, and we hope that Bethel Park residents do, too.

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