Are Fire District elections worth keeping?

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

You probably missed it over the weekend due in part to the unseasonably wonderful weather and political excitement down in South Carolina, Save Jerseyans, but 80 New Jersey municipalities held 185 fire district elections between them to select fire commissioners and pass judgment on massive budgets.

The stakes? Yuuuuge. Multi-million dollar contracts and a significant chunk of your property tax bill. Just one of Hamilton’s nine fire districts (District 7) asked voters to approve a $4,088,577 budget. That’s a 10.9% increase over 2015.

FirefightersYet almost NONE of you voted. Turnout made last November’s historically-skipped legislative elections look like a gold rush. Don’t doubt that it’s partially by design. Fire districts don’t even have to mail out sample ballots by law; election results aren’t tabulated by municipal or county clerks like they are for a regular election. It’s a crazy system given the amount of money that’s on the line.

Some politicians have called for consolidation. Others want to move them to November.

My question: Is it worth considering doing away with this extra layer of bureaucracy altogether? Particularly since MILLIONS of dollars in each district – and the property tax bills of all New Jerseyans – are being decided by a mere… 40-ish voters?

Would putting the responsibility of funding these priorities back in council’s lap streamline these important issues for voters?

Let me know what you think…

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3 thoughts on “Are Fire District elections worth keeping?

  1. It should be with the rest of the elections. On the other ones we get a mail sample ballot. And there signs all over but with the fire it in the public notice in the paper that a lot of people don’t read

  2. I agree the budgets should be voted on with all the others in Nov. Butvremember its the State that set it in Feb not the Fire Districts. Dist 7 in Hamilton was going up but that 10.9% equaled out to about $30 a year for homes assesed at $250k. And I believe they offer 4 FF 24/7/365. So yes it is alot of money but is public safety really where we need to cut spending?

  3. Move them to November. Just like how they moved BOE elections from April to Nov it makes sense and saves money. With the government contracts being involved, voters must have a say.

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