By Amanda Ensinger
A local township is moving forward with a levy on the November ballot and officials have agreed on how much to ask taxpayers for. At a recent Franklin Township meeting, the board approved asking voters for a 5.89-mill replacement levy for the fire department.
This would increase residents’ property taxes by approximately $33 a year per $100,000 home.
“This levy will replace the existing levy that is set to expire 2021,” said Mark Potts, township administrator. “This replacement levy will generate $972,105 a year for the fire department.”
Potts said the replacement levy will take into account new property values, increasing the revenue brought in by the levy. The older levy that is set to expire does not adjust the collection amount based on property value, meaning if property values increase the township cannot collect more.
The township was considering anywhere from a 5.89 to 13-mill levy, however, the trustees agreed they had more of a chance of passing the levy if they asked voters for a replacement levy.
“The trustees thought voters would be more likely to approve this than a levy asking for more mills,” Potts said. “This amount will allow our fire department to continue to operate, while also staying within their budget.”
Previously, Franklin Township Fire Chief James Welch said simply replacing the 5.89-mil levy would not be enough to sustain the current services the fire department is offering.
“We have laid out three options for the trustees to choose from with different millage amounts, to sustain the services we currently have we would need to pass a 13-mill levy,” Welch said. “This option would allow us to have two engines and two medics, which is what we currently have.”
Option two would have been a 9.85-mill and would result in the department keeping two fire engines and one medic. Option three was a 5.89-mill levy and would result in the department keeping one fire engine and two medics.
According to Welch, with option two the department would have to have let go of six firefighters and with option three they would have had to let go of nine firefighters. As a result, Welch said this would impact their response rates and they would have to wait for neighboring fire departments to respond to calls if they couldn’t respond because they were on other calls.
The township also collects from three other permanent levies.
The township tried in the spring to get a 19.5-mill township-wide permanent levy for the fire department, but that levy failed. This will be the second time the township is trying to get a levy passed for the fire department this year.
“I think the fact that we tried to do a township-wide levy was a large part of why the levy failed,” Potts said. “Residents in Valleyview were really against this and about 112 people from that area came out to vote in the last election and about 105 of them voted against the levy. This was a big factor in why it failed.”
The last levy the township tried to get approved would have been for residents, as well as those who annexed out of the township, increasing the number of people who would have paid into the levy. However, this new proposed levy is only for township residents.
If this levy fails, Welch said the fire department would look at letting go of at least 15 firefighters. The department would also only run one engine and one medic and could close one of their firehouses.