On the third Saturday in February, the public will have its say on the budgets and commissioners for Hamilton’s fire districts.

In what might be the final fire election in Hamilton before consolidation, each of the township’s districts have proposed tax increases to counteract rising costs for insurance and salaries.

New Mayor Jeff Martin has said he expects the years-long effort to consolidate Hamilton’s fire districts into a single municipal department to be completed this year. Some fire district employees have expressed apprehension on the details of such a move, while others are eager to see this next step finally happen.

“It’s long overdue,” retiring District No. 9 Chief Mark Antozzeski said. “We look forward to working with the mayor and council and getting this project complete. We’ve been working on this project for many years. It will improve safety for our citizens. It will improve safety for our personnel.”

Until that time, the districts will run independent annual elections, with their individual budget proposals and different commissioners up for vote. Residents can vote in their respective districts.

This year’s elections are on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2–9 p.m., at the fire station in each district.

District No. 2–Mercerville Fire Company has two unopposed races for three-year fire commissioner terms: commissioner Gene Argenti and Thomas Hargreaves. Also up for a vote is a budget increase of about 0.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a home in District No. 2 valued at $200,000, this would be an increase of about $17 in taxes in 2020.

District 2 polling will take place at their station house located at 2711 Nottingham Way, Mercerville.

District No. 3–Rusling Hose, located at 13 Rennie St., has commissioner Gilbert Lugossy running unopposed for reelection. Also on the ballot is a budget increase of 1.72 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, or an increase of approximately $34 for a $200,000 home. The increase will cover increased insurance costs, Capt. Ferdinand Mather said.

District No. 4–Hamilton and Enterprise Fire Companies has commissioners Brian Newbon and Patricia Gray running for re-election for three-year terms. Jacqueline Newbon and Tammy Duffy will be running for a two-year term while Brian Newbon and John Newbon Sr. will run for one-year terms. The proposed budget includes an increase of 2.4 cents per $100 of assessed home valuation. This would mean a tax increase of approximately $49 this year for a $200,000 home. Polling will take place at 1805 E. State St.

District No. 5–Decou Hose Company, located at 61 Ruskin Ave., has commissioners Bernard Crammer Jr. and Danny Gulotta up for re-election for three-year terms. The budget includes an increase of 3.4 cents per $100 of assessed home valuation, or an increase of approximately $69 for a $200,000 home in District No. 5.

District No. 6 –White Horse Fire Company, located at 19 Locust Ave., has commissioners Mike Sanna and Anthony Mantuano up for re-election. The budget includes an increase of 1.4 cents per $100 of assessed home valuation. This would mean an increase in fire taxes of approximately $28 for a $200,000 home.

“We would request that the public come and support us so we can be available to provide service to them during their emergencies”

District No. 7–Nottingham Fire Company, located at 200 Mercer St., will have incumbent commissioner Mathew Wagner up for re-election, with Clark Sabo and Gregory Schultz challenging his seat for a three-year term. The proposed budget includes an increase of 0.5 cents per $100 of assessed home valuation. This would mean an increase of approximately $10 in fire taxes for $200,000 home in District No. 7.

District No. 8–Colonial Fire Company located at 801 Kuser Road, has commissioner Wayne D’Artagnan running unopposed. The proposed budget includes an increase of 3 cents per $100 of assessed home valuation, or an increase of approximately $60 in fire taxes for a $200,000 home in District. No. 8. This will cover an increase in salaries and insurance, commissioner Michael Kashella said. Payments for a leased truck will appear on this year’s billing statement, as well as additional costs for the county billing the district to print their own absentee ballots.

“Unfortunately, due to the decline in the volunteers and the availability of them we had to put on crews for around the clock service to ensure service to our taxpayers, and that does not come without cost,” Kashella said.

District No. 9–Groveville Fire Company, located at 4201 Crosswicks Hamilton Square Road, has two commissioners running unopposed for re-election: Ross Hart and Richard Kraemer. The proposed budget includes an increase of about 3 cents per $100 of assessed home valuation, or a fire tax increase of approximately $61 for a $200,000 home in District No. 9. The first payment for a vehicle approved last year will appear on this year’s budget.

“The budget includes personnel costs, all costs for the building operations…so we would request that the public come and support us so we can be available to provide service to them during their emergencies,” Antozzeski said.