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Cinnaminson Fire District Budget Vote is Feb. 18

The proposed budget calls for no tax increase for the average homeowner.

budget vote will be held next Saturday and officials are calling for a zero increase in the amount of funds raised by taxation.

Elections will be held Saturday, Feb. 18 from 2 to 9 p.m. at the community center on Riverton Road.

This is the fourth year in a row the fire district tax has remained the same. The total budget proposed for 2012 is $3,234,349, of which $2,741,234 is to be raised by taxation. According to the department’s website, the remaining funds come from grants, interest, inspection fees and from surplus carried over from last year.

For the average homeowner in Cinnaminson, whose home is valued at $295,000, there is no increase.

Fire Commissioner Rich Dietrich attributes balancing a budget to the efforts made by all five commissioners. He also praised the fire marshals for doing a stellar job with inspection fees to help offset costs.

Commissioner Robert Steel is a mechanical engineer while Commissioner Harry E. Smith III is a former Air Force firefighter.

“He has a tremendous amount of knowledge in that area,” Dietrich said of Smith.

Commissioner Roger Butler is an insurance executive and has helped keep costs down, Dietrich said. Commissioner Frank Ellison, the fire department’s newest commissioner, is an expert in safety equipment. And finally, Dietrich himself is an accountant.

“The diverse nature of our backgrounds really permits us to draw from our expertise,” Dietrich said.

Both Dietrich and Steel are running uncontested for two full terms as commissioner. Ellison is running for an unexpired term—one he filled when Commissioner Rob Dwyer left in the summer.

“We would like to see a lot of votes anyway,” Dietrich said.

Historically, fire elections do not garner many voters. .

“It varies,” Dietrich said of voters. “It’s not a significant number in relation to registered voters. Unfortunately, it’s on a Saturday. Maybe people don’t think of voting on a Saturday.”

The fire district tries to reach various civic groups around town to encourage voting and they feature a breakdown of their budget on their website.

Currently, there are 13 full-time firemen (that includes the fire marshal and fire inspector) and a total of nearly 50 volunteers. There are two firehouses—one on  and another on .

FbS February 09, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Great job at keeping spending and taxes to a minimum guys!
I. Gadget February 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Will definitely be out to vote, I hope many others will as well. I think Richard should be replaced, there others more qualified.
Joe P. February 09, 2012 at 05:11 PM
In the article, why does the Cinn Fire Company make the distinction that, "if you have a home valued at $295,000 or less, there will be no tax increase"? If it's a "residential" home in town, what difference does the home value make? Does the Cinn Fire Company make these decisions? As a homeowner, I don't understand why there would be any disparity of Fire service, or excess taxes required, if that is the implication of this statement in the article.
Christina Paciolla (Editor) February 09, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Joe P, the fire company didn't make that distinction. I did, as the author of the article. It's kind of hard to answer this question without going into specifics of your tax bill. The average home is valued at $295K and that's what the municipal tax rate is based off of. That's for ALL parts of your tax bill. The budget is remaining flat. Maybe someone else can explain this better!
Tax Payer 2 February 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Not too sure how the Fire District works here in town. Where I lived, it was all volunteer, and the Public Safety Director ran the whole show, including the Fire Dept. So I have a few questions perhaps someone could answer for me. 1). From reading the article, it appears there are 4 Commissioners. First, why do we need/have 4? Second, are they full time or part time? Third, Are they hired or appointed, and if appointed, by who? 2). We actually have 2 Fire Departments in town. Why? Isn't that a waste of money to have two buildings, both fully equipped? 3). What exactly is a "volunteer duty crew incentive"? Is that another phrase for "paid"? On the pie chart, that's what it appears to be. We don't seriously pay "volunteers", do we? The article says we have 13 Full Time firefighters. 4). Going back to question one, we have 4 Commissioners, and then it says we also have a Fire Marshall? I am also aware that we have at least one Fire Chief as well. Who is in charge? And that seems a little overkill, doesn't it? 5). I've only been here a few years, but I was here for the dismantling of the Police Department. Last I read right here on Patch, our town is down to 23 Full time Police Officers, yet we have 13 Full time Firefighters? I haven't seen to many fires since I've been here. 6). Why doesn't the township control the Fire Budget? 7). Why don't they move the vote to November, along with everything else? That's how you get people out to vote. Thanks for any responses.
Christina Paciolla (Editor) February 09, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Maybe I can shed some light on a couple of these issues. This is what I know—as a reporter and editor of Cinnaminson Patch. I have no connection with the department, but this is what I know to be the case. 1. We have five commissioners. They serve in administrative roles for the fire district and deal with business policies, personnel, budgets, equipment, codes, education, and much more. You ask if they are appointed. No, they are elected by members of the voting public. That is right up in the story I wrote. 2. We have one fire department in town, but we have two stations. One is open 24 hours a day and is staffed by career members while another is mostly staffed with a duty crew overnight. Both have equipment and are on different sides of the township. 5. The fire department responds to more than 100 calls per month. That includes motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, gas leaks, fires, etc. Each month, Cinnaminson Patch provides a breakdown of calls. Do a search for "Fire Department Releases" in the search box and you will see each month's numbers. 6. I'm not sure what you mean by "Why doesn't the township control the Fire Budget?" The township votes on the fire budget at an election each year. 7. It's not up to individual fire districts to decide to change the vote. That's at the state level. Hope this helps.
Tax Payer 2 February 09, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Thank you Christina, it does help some. I still don't know why Cinnaminson needs 2 Fire Departments. We Don't need them. And I was a volunteer Firefighter as well, and I know all about those stats. how many "actual" fires? How many "accidents" and "medical emergencies"where the Police really "need" their assistance, when they have their own EMT's, and ambulances and paramedics are also close by. I surely respect the Fire Fighters and appreciate the job they do, but for a small town, and believe it or not, Cinnaminson IS a small town, we do not need FIVE Commissioners, a Marshall, a Chief, and TWO separate fully equipped buildings, and especially if Both are manned nightly? Wow, I can see why they haven't increased the budget, the people in charge have obviously been "padding" it for years! Maybe that's why it's not under local government control.
FbS February 09, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Tax payer- Did you even read what Christina wrote? She said that we have one dept but 2 stations.. This is due because there is no centrally located station in Cinna. One on each side of the township. To lessen the arrival time.. and possible someday save you life.. I do agree with you though when you say that 5 commissioners are too many.. Two would do it..
William Kramer February 10, 2012 at 02:18 AM
My name is Bill Kramer. I am the fire chief for Cinnaminson Township. I would be happy top answer any questions but certainly do not appreciate Tax Payer 2's uneducated comments. A Fire Commission is established by ordinace and must be in accordance with State Law. The Law stipulates that there must be a five member board. As Christina stated these are publically elected positions. The board is civilian controled. As far as the date of the election that is set by State statute. With respect to the comment that the budget has been padded is insulting. The board of fire commissioners along with the management team has worked very hard to reduce the burden on the taxpayers and will continue to do so. As most people do not understand the department and the budget, the board has had advertised public hearings and has attended numerous civic organization meetings to explain the budget. This is something the board does every year. The Fire Marshal is responsible to enforce the states fire codes in town, investigate fires, conduct public education seminars, etc. If Tax Payer 2 was a volunteer somewhere he would know this fact. And as Christina said, we have one department that operates out of two stations. The board has explored a single station in the center of town in the past but that would cost millions to build. Continued on next post......
William Kramer February 10, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Continued from previous post I am in charge of the department and report to the Board of Fire Commissioners. They meet at the municipal building on the second and third Tuesday of each month. These meetings are open to the public. You can see the schedule and review the meeting minutes at cinnaminsonfire.org. All are welcome to attend. Tax Payer 2 or anyone else that has questions, please contact me at 856-829-5220 and when I get done my full time job I will call you.
Dan Reynolds February 10, 2012 at 02:46 AM
(Thank You Bill Kramer), Wow, Hydrants are rented? Never knew that (Rented from the water company?)
William Kramer February 10, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Yes Dan they are rented from NJ American Water.
Dana Dietrich February 10, 2012 at 05:17 AM
I was a little suprised to see negative comments on this story. Taxes are not going up-that's a good thing. Additionally, I have known Rich Dietrich for almost twenty years. He is an intelligent man, a savvy negotiator and an excellent accountant. He is extremely detail oriented and analyzes situations from every possible angle before making a decision. In the spirit of full disclosure, he also happens to be my father-in-law and I can't think of a better person to share his knowledge and skills to serve the citizens of Cinnaminson. Thank you to the commissioners for all your efforts in keeping our taxes unchanged in this tough economic environment. Also, a big thank you to all the firefighters for keeping us safe.
Alison Perry February 10, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Why would you say that Richard Dietrich is not qualified? He's an Accountant and as such he's more than qualified to make decisions regarding the financial aspects of running the Fire Department. He's an asset we're lucky to have.
J Silverman February 10, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Dana I find it very honorable that you stand up for your Father -in- law, but don't you think the man could fight his own battles? It made me chuckle sorry.
Dana Dietrich February 10, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I'm sorry "J"-I didn't realize there were any battles being fought. I thought I was just stating my opinion in a public forum...but thank you...you just reminded me why I avoid Patch. Have a great day!
Aimee February 10, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Dana, Good for you and Chief Kramer to risk the attacks of some to defend what you believe in. If you don’t know where this attack is coming from allow me to fill you in. Your father-in-law dared to state his opinion on a local hate page which was against their grain and as everyone knows, that is not permitted. ANYONE who opposes their point of view gets bullied and attacked into submission so that is why he is under fire now! Cyber Bullying at its finest!
Stephen February 17, 2012 at 02:19 PM
As a relatively new resident of South Jersey (8 years), I'm amazed at the grandiose fire palaces, stuffed with shiny new equipment, that many of our neighboring townships splurge on (just attend any of Moorestown's various civic parades to see what I mean). Cinnaminson's overhead seems positively modest by comparison. Salary expenditures for 13 employees seem quite reasonable, as well as vehicle leases, maintenance, etc. Considering that the township has significant industrial and commercial sectors in addition to our residential neighborhoods, not to mention a major traffic corridor through the middle of it, I think we're getting good value for the tax dollar here and will vote accordingly. Thank you.
Jon B February 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM
So the Fire Chief position is NOT a full time position? That is very interesting, I did not know this. Christina will you be posting the Fire Dept salaries as well?

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