Arcadia, Atlanta residents ‘blindsided’ by fire territory dissolving

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ARCADIA, Ind. (Feb. 16, 2016)- Tempers were hot in Hamilton County Tuesday night  during the Jackson Fire Territory board meeting. Residents in the Town of Arcadia and Atlanta are worried about who will respond to a fire or medical emergency after July 1.

It was standing room only at the Arcadia Town Hall.

The Towns of Atlanta, Arcadia and Jackson Township joined together in 2011 to form a fire territory. It provides fire and EMS services for all three entities. However, Jackson Township recently decided to dissolve the agreement due to forecasted  financial issues. The uncertainty has residents concerned.

"I'm not saying that we are in a money crisis right now, but down the line we will be," said Jackson Township Trustee Chris Miller.

Despite the future financial problems, Miller received a salary raise of more than $12,000 from 2014 to 2015.

"The tax payers need to know that there is not a budget crisis. The fire territory is not broken. It doesn't need to be fixed," said Robyn Cook, clerk-treasurer for the Town of Atlanta.

Cook says there are no financial problems with the fire territory and she even assisted in a financial analysis of the budget. She spoke out several times during Tuesday's meeting and cited monetary increases from year to  year.

Cook characterized the move by Jackson Township as politically motivated.

"The towns of Arcadia and Atlanta were blindsided by this. We feel like we've been betrayed, that this has been going on behind our backs and the rug has been pulled out from under us," said Cook.

"They are using this financial situation  as an excuse and  I would like to know why, said John Phifer,  who represents Atlanta on the fire territory board.

No decisions were made during the board meeting Tuesday. It was an opportunity for residents to ask questions about what fire and EMS service will look like in the future.  It will now be up to the town councils of Atlanta and Arcadia to decide how to proceed.

 

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