By Dedra Cordle
Residents in Jackson Township will be asked to decide whether they support a temporary levy for the fire department come November.
At its Aug. 4 meeting, the board of trustees voted to approve a resolution that would place a 4-mill levy that would expire in five years on the ballot. The trustees said they believed the measure was needed as the expenditures of the fire department have begun to surpass revenue.
According to year-to-date figures from fiscal officer Ron Grossman, the fire fund has taken in $8 million while spending roughly the same amount and the EMS fund has taken in $877,000 while spending $1.4 million. He said that future tax budget projections only show the gap between expenditures and revenue widening.
The decision to place the 4-mill, five-year operating levy on the ballot was not unanimous.
Trustees Jim Rauck and Ron McClure voted in favor of the resolution’s passage. Trustee Dave Burris voted against it.
The board has been mulling the placement of a levy on the ballot for several months. In late June, the board unanimously approved a resolution of necessity to allow the county auditors to certify current total tax valuations and dollar amounts that would be generated by a 7-mill renewal levy that was approved in the 1980s. At the following meeting, that was modified to request the replacement of said levy; Burris voted against it. On July 21, Rauck introduced the possibility of a temporary measure on the ballot as he believed voters might be more willing to support a short-term measure. Burris also voted against that request stating that it was not the “right time to ask voters for a tax increase.” He encouraged the board to “think outside of the box” as it pertains to funding the fire department.
On July 31, a special meeting was held where the board was expected to debate and approve the placement of either the 7-mill replacement levy or the 4-mill temporary levy.
Those plans were put on hold when officials with the city of Grove City sent the board a letter stating they were willing to work together to come up with a funding plan for the fire department. The trustees have said repeatedly that the diversion of TIF funds have negatively impacted the fire department’s finances.
That topic was broached at the Aug. 4 meeting but McClure said he did not believe the plan, which at the time had no concrete financial figures, went “far enough.”
“I am grateful for the meeting we had with the city. I am grateful they want to help us,” he said, “but my concern is that it is not quite enough, that it is like a Band-Aid and it doesn’t really get us through to where to need to be.”
The trustees said they hoped for more fruitful discussions with the city regarding funding but felt it was necessary to be “proactive” and allow the citizens to make the decision on whether they want to support this measure.