By Michelle Dupler
Franklin Township officials are asking residents to reconsider a fire levy that failed last May by 52 percent, according to the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Township residents will vote Nov. 5 whether to increase property taxes by 5.36 mills for every dollar, or about 54 cents per $100 in value. This represents an increase of about $164 annually on a $100,000 home, officials said.
Fire Chief Rick Howard said the levy failed because residents are under the impression the township raked in millions of dollars from Hollywood Casino.
The township has received no funds from the casino, according to Howard. The city of Columbus annexed the property and has not finalized any agreements to distribute a portion of the tax proceeds, he said.
“We’ve been losing all this money since 2010, (and) we as a township, have not generated replacement funds,” Howard said.
A possible agreement with the city was discussed at the Sept. 26 meeting, but was not available at the time of publication.
The fire levy is intended to raise $800,000 per year for the Franklin Township Fire Department, which officials said has lost funding from a combination of factors.
Howard said the biggest loss comes from the phase-out of a personal property tax on businesses that make up one-third of the department’s revenue. This tax will fade away altogether by 2023, but the department is feeling the effects, according to Howard.
The department suffered a reduction in state monies from a policy, which allows the cost of demolishing abandoned homes to be deducted from delinquent taxes before local jurisdictions are paid. That money eats into revenue voters previously wanted to go toward fire services, Howard said.
“The people didn’t vote for a fire levy to tear down houses,” Howard said. “I’m sure they appreciate they’re eliminating blight, but its money not being spent on police and fire services.”
The levy would pay for fire department operations and apparatus. It would begin collection in 2014.