(Posted April 6, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Jefferson Township has placed a property tax levy on the May 3 primary election ballot seeking funding for operating expenses for the Jefferson Township Fire Department.
The request is for replacement of the existing 11-mill levy with an increase of 1-mill for a total of 12 mills. The replacement would bring tax collections in line with current property valuations. The levy would be for a continuing period of time.
The current levy generates approximately $2,343,760 per year and costs the taxpayer $296.10 per year per $100,000 of property valuation. If passed, the replacement with an increase would generate $3,077,476 per year and cost the taxpayer $420 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.
In the November 2021 election, the township attempted a different levy request, asking voters to consider a 5.5-mill additional levy to build a new fire station and generate added operating funds. That request failed.
“We heard the message that was sent by the voters and knew that we must reevaluate our approach to focus on our most immediate need–operations,” township officials wrote in a recent letter to voters.
The fire department’s operating budget pays for firefighter/EMTs, supplies, fuel, training, and other day-to-day expenses. Due to ongoing growth in demand for fire services and relatively stagnant revenue, those expenses have been outpacing revenues. As a result, the fire department has been dipping into its carryover funds to make ends meet. This year’s shortfall is estimated to be $748,927.
“We don’t want to get into a position where there are not enough funds to maintain current services,” said Fire Chief Chris Snyder.
The current 11-mill levy was originally passed in 1999 and replaced in 2010. In deciding what to place on the May ballot, the township determined that replacement of the 11 mills and the addition of 1 mill would put “operations on track and provide necessary funding for years to come.”
“For now, a new firehouse and other much needed facility improvements and expansions will have to wait,” township leaders stated. “These are necessary improvements and this was a hard choice, but it was a choice we had to make. Therefore, the new firehouse is not included in our current (levy) request.”
This levy represents the fire department’s primary source of funding.