Letters about the Madison Township fire levy

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Vote no on fire levy
Madison Township voters will decide in the May 5 election on a permanent property tax increase which will generate an extra $3.2 million annually (per Franklin County Auditor) due in 2016 and will cost approximately $180 extra in property taxes for a $100,000 property.

Per parts of the ballot, the tax is for the purpose of providing and maintaining fire apparatus, appliances, buildings, or sites or sources of water supply and materials or the establishment and maintenance of lines of fire alarm telegraph or the payment of firefighting companies or permanent, part-time, or volunteer firefighting, emergency medical service, administrative or communications personnel to operate the same, or the purchase of ambulance equipment or the provision of ambulance, paramedic or other emergency medical services.

Notice the number of the “or” words in the ballot. It appears they are not sure what they will do with the extra $16 to $32 million they will get over the next 5 to 10 years! Don’t they prepare a five or 10 year budget? Why isn’t this levy temporary with enough money to build the $3.6 million fire station and purchase the equipment? Do they really need an extra $3.2 million  every year? How are the citizens of Madison Township going to decide how to vote if they are not sure how the extra millions will be spent. Will they be used like most of the school levies (salaries and benefits)?

Madison Township must be more forthcoming with specifics before we vote on this issue. We do appreciate the firefighters as they do an excellent job, but without specific transparency of the use of our dollars, it would be like voting for Obamacare without reading the bill and we all know the problems that caused!
Roger Peacock
Canal Winchester

Enough is enough
Township fire budgets in Franklin County are stretched thin partly because of their agreements with Columbus. Several  fire departments – including Madison Township – are asking for levies.

Madison has an agreement with Columbus to automatically respond to any calls if they are the closest unit. My opinion is we stop auto response and stick to mutual aid, the time spent outside the township causes wear and tear on equipment costs a lot of money.

Our property taxes are getting to the point that retired people cannot afford any more. Here is a list of taxes we currently pay, ADAMH, Children’s Services, county general fund, FCBDD, Joint Vocational School, Columbus Library, Metro Parks, schools, Senior Options, township, and Columbus Zoo. Some of these will also be seeking levies in the future.

Columbus city leaders will have to decide whether to build more fire stations or  work with townships and suburbs to serve the outer ring of a growing city. Hopefully the new mayor of Columbus will build new stations and take the burden off the townships and suburbs.

Madison Township wants to build a new firehouse on Noe-Bixby Road near the Columbus border. If they continue automatic response, a lot more runs will go into Columbus.

If Columbus wants township and suburbs to continue running calls for them, they should work out an agreement to pay for these calls. Enough is enough
G. W. Ooten
Canal Winchester

Clarifying the fire levy
I want to thank Mr. Peacock (letter to the editor in the April 19 Southeast Messenger) for seeking clarity regarding the Madison Township fire levy.

The Madison Township Fire Department prepares an annual budget and in 2014 the department developed and recommended a five year plan, including expenditure projections for capital projects, to the township trustees. This plan was adopted and is available to anyone in the community and we welcome the opportunity to discuss and explain the process. The plan can be found at http://madisontownship.org/index.php/fire/five-year-plan.

Cost projections were calculated, along with budgetary increases resulting from inflation, when the amount of the levy request was determined. The needs being addressed by this levy include apparatus replacement, construction of a third station, placing a third medic unit in service, paying for the costs associated with operating that unit, and implementation of the other recommendations contained in the department’s five year plan.

With respect to the ballot language, it mirrors paragraph (I) of Ohio Revised Code Section 5705.19, which specifies what a tax levy in excess of the 10 mill limitation can be used for. The specific purposes contained in the ballot language that was prepared for Madison Township’s levy is similar to the language used by other townships and fire districts in Ohio. Voters should know that prior to being placed on the ballot all tax levies are reviewed by the county prosecutor to ensure they meet the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code.
Robert Bates, fire chief
Madison Township

Vote for the fire levy
Our family and a lot of friends are supporting the Madison Township fire levy. The need is real. I have a copy of the five year plan and it outlines where the money will go. There is no hidden agenda. The levy will be used to pay for placing a third medic unit in service tentatively proposed in the northern part of the district and paying for the costs associated with it. An additional nine firefighters will be needed to staff the new station.  The cost will be approximately $1.2 million. In addition, apparatus needs to be updated and replaced according to new mandated laws. There has been a reduction in tax money to the department.

The department responded to just over 3,600 incidents in 2002 and in 2014, the number increased to 6,295. By adding another fire station in the northern part of the township, the department will able to respond to incidents in less time. There have been many lives saved just in our Harriet subdivision alone. We are seniors on a fixed income, but we feel strongly the cost of saving lives and homes far outweighs what we might have to give up, like a cup of coffee each day at McDonalds or Starbucks. Some might have to give up a pack or two of cigarettes each week. We know it might be a burden to some as was well as us, but we believe it is a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing our firefighters and medics are a phone call away.

Thank you for all you do for our community. You do a great job.
John and Sharon Whitten
Madison Township

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