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Fire levy set for November ballot
Prairie Township residents will vote on a replacement levy for the fire department in November.
Fire Chief Steve Feustel presented information about the levy to township trustees at their most recent meeting.
According to Feustel, the levy is necessary to ensure adequate funding to maintain the current quality of service to the township. The additional revenue from property taxes would also help fund the future purchase of a fire engine and the hiring of two medics.
“Right now for 2010, our budget is solid, however, funds at the end of 2011 will not be adequate to start operations in 2012. It will place us into deficit spending,” said Feustel, “Ultimately, we are going to need a levy.”
Feustel presented a graph to the board which indicated a shortfall of $520,000 in funds starting in 2012 if current levies were not replaced.
Feustel shared numbers from the Franklin County auditor, which indicated the fire department currently receives funding from four different levies from past years.
Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker explained that millage on a levy is frozen in place once the levy passes. As home values increase, the money collected on past levies stays the same, forcing the township to miss out on money it could be collecting.
A replacement levy would change and combine the millage of two current levies, and bring the collection amounts up to pace with current property values.
Feustel said he wants to replace the 1993 levy with a millage of 3.9 and the 1999 levy with a millage of 5.5, totalling a combined millage of 9.4.
“By replacing the levies with a single levy we can recollect the money that has eroded away due to inflation,” said Fuestel.
According to Hatmaker, the owner of a $100,000 home in Prairie Township would incur an additional cost of $9.45 per month or about $113 per year, if the levy passes.
Feustel said action needs to be taken for a levy on the November ballot because acting now can extend the life of the levy for three to four years.
“In the past, we have waited until crunch time and then in five years we are asking for another levy. This plan extends the life of the levy. This will extend well beyond our expenses into 2017 when we will need to ask for another levy,” said Feustel.
Replacing the 1993 and 1999 levies for a 9.4 millage means an additional $1.16 million per year for the fire department, said Feustel.
“This will make the fire department very solvent and secure for years to come,” said Feustel, “We are trying to be proactive. We are trying to be preventative. We really believe this will make us solid for 10 years.”
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