Fire District plans info sessions on levy request

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The Central Townships Joint Fire District has a levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. Informational meetings for residents are set for 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Newport Fire House and from 7 to 8 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Lafayette Fire House.

Over the past 40 years, funds for the fire department have come from participating townships’ individual revenue sources. The current burden on taxpayers in each township averages 1 mill or approximately $30 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.

Earlier this summer, trustees in Deercreek, Monroe, Oak Run, Paint and Union townships voted to enter into a joint fire district arrangement, which allowed for placement of one levy on the ballot for the entire district, rather than each township filing a separate levy request.

If passed, the fire district’s proposed 4.75-mill, five-year levy would cost taxpayers in the district approximately $140 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.

The money would allow the all-volunteer department to remedy its staffing problems, said Rob Turvy, a Deercreek Township trustee and member of the fire district’s board of directors.

“The department has had trouble since the 1990s with getting enough volunteers to help in the daytime hours. It’s a problem that a lot of departments are having across the country,” said Turvy, noting that 65 percent of Central Townships’ emergency calls happen between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Due to lack of manpower, there are times when the fire department is unable to respond to calls, Turvy said. In these cases, surrounding departments are called in through mutual aid agree-ments, which puts an extra burden on them.

With the money the proposed levy would generate, the Central Town-ships Joint Fire District board would hire a full-time chief to oversee part-time employees covering both stations (Newport and Lafayette) from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Volunteers would continue to cover the evenings and weekends.

Residents with questions or concerns about the levy are invited to attend the Sept. 19 and Oct. 17 meetings. They also can contact any Central Township firefighter or fire district board member. In addition to Turvy, the board includes president Ivan Miller of Oak Run Township, Dave Gallimore of Monroe Township, Phil Eades of Paint Township, Gary Bogenrife of Union Township, and fiscal officer Robert Dunkle.

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