DORSET — After last week's election, residents of Dorset and East Dorset will be paying the same property tax rate for fire protection.
East Dorset residents had been paying a higher rate to fund the East Dorset Volunteer Fire Department, which also serves Dorset. Dorset residents had been paying a lower tax rate to fund the Dorset Fire Department.
Last week voters agreed to equalize the cost of fire protection with 407 in favor, 59 opposed.
Town manager Rob Gaiotti said the election basically allows "inclusion of the fire district budgets into the town budget to equalize the tax load."
With the two fire companies sharing the load of fire protection for both villages through a mutual aid agreement, the annual cost of both were similar. But because there are 1,006 properties in Dorset and East Dorset has 422, East Dorset property owners were carrying a heavier load of the fire tax.
As a result of the vote, the fire protection tax will be included in the town tax bills, which were mailed out last week.
"The good news is you won't have a fire tax bill anymore," Gaiotti said. "Now this will equalize the cost, and we think that's a good thing. Both fire department and the select board have approved it, so now we'll give it a one-year trial."
The volunteer fire department in East Dorset has about 30 active fire fighters. The Dorset volunteer squad has about 10. Both departments respond to all emergency calls. Last year they responded to about 120 calls.
"Everything else is done this way," said resident Pauline de Laszlo during a town meeting called before the election. "I just think it's a no-brainer that this should get passed and we move forward."