ATLANTA, Ind (Feb. 15, 2016)-- On July 1, 2016, fire and EMS service will look much different for some residents living in northern Hamilton County.
Since 2011, Arcadia, the town of Atlanta and Jackson Township have teamed up to form a fire territory. The three municipalities joined forces because they aren't financially capable of sustaining independent emergency services.
However, the agreement will be extinguished in July. Chris Miller, the Jackson Township trustee, says the vote to pull out of the fire territory is simply a business decision.
"We see that in the future we are going to lose money and we need those funds to maintain those services we have worked so hard to provide," said Miller.
Without Jackson Township, Arcadia and Atlanta will have to come up with a new plan for emergency services. Residents in those towns are concerned about public safety in the future.
"My concern is for the safety and welfare of the residents of this community," said John Phifer, an Atlanta representative who sits on the fire territory board.
"It's not the goal of the township or anybody else to say service is going to go away," said MIller.
Before the Jackson Fire Territory formed in 2011, Arcadia and Atlanta contracted with Jackson Township for fire and EMS services. A contracted deal might be a solution for Arcadia and Atlanta.
“We are doing everything that we can to try and get these people covered and find out what we legally can and cannot do," said Phifer.
"We need to talk about how we are going to structure this. It will take some discussion. It's going to require negotiations and everyone calming down."
It will now be up to the town councils of Arcadia and Atlanta to decide how they want to move forward with fire and EMS services. Miller says that tax rates will remain the same and wants to assure residents that nobody is expected to lose their job,
The fire territory board will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Arcadia Town Hall located at 208 W. Main Street.