(Posted Sept. 27, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Central Townships Joint Fire District and the Madison County Emergency Medical District (EMD) serve the same coverage area–Deer Creek, Monroe, Oak Run, Paint, Union and Somerford townships–and both have tax levies on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. The fire district is asking for a renewal. The EMD is asking for a renewal with an increase.
Fire District levy
The fire district is requesting a five-year renewal of a 4.75-mill property tax levy. The levy generates approximately $1,544,778 per year. If the levy passes, the cost to the taxpayer would remain $166.25 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.
“The levy allows us to continue doing what we’ve been doing day-to-day for the last 50-plus years,” said Chief Brian Bennington. The levy dollars go toward fire protection, personnel, and fire equipment.
The fire district operates stations in Summerford, Lafayette and Newport, allowing for quicker response times and backup options, Bennington said.
“So, at no point do we leave the district uncovered, which is a big deal,” he added.
Two of the stations are staffed 24/7. A third station, rotating between Summerford and Lafayette, is staffed 12 hours per day.
The district recently put a new fire engine into service at the Lafayette station. They moved a second engine into the Summerford station; that station now has an engine rescue and a pumper tanker. Previously, that location only had a pumper tanker.
Most of the district’s 54 employees are dual certified as fire fighters and emergency medical technicians. Also, among the 54, six are certified as inspectors and seven are certified as instructors.
Bennington said he appreciates the support the district has received from voters over the years.
“We’ve always had great support from residents. They’ve never turned down a levy for us,” he said. “We always try to provide the best support we can for them, and they’ve always been satisfied with what we do.”
Emergency Medical District levy
The Madison County EMD is requesting a five-year renewal of its current 3.0-mill levy with an increase of 1.75 mills for a total of 4.75 mills for current expenses.
Currently, the 3.0-mill levy generates approximately $948,720 per year. The cost to the taxpayer is $101.85 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.
If voters approve the renewal with an increase, the levy would generate approximately $1,519,402 per year. The cost to the taxpayer would be $163.10 per year per $100,000 of property valuation.
The increase will allow the department to maintain staffing levels, address equipment needs, and keep up with rising costs, said Bennington, who also serves as EMD chief.
For many years, Madison County EMD serviced the city of London. In 2018, London withdrew from the EMD and started its own emergency medical services. London had accounted for a large portion of the EMD’s budget and runs.
“We did not lower staffing after the switch because we thought it would be a disservice to the district,” Bennington said. “We feel we need to keep operating the way we always have to provide the townships with the best coverage.”
The department staffs six people at a time to cover three paramedic trucks. The department’s 15 full-time employees and six part-time employees work in three teams, with one team at a time covering a 24-hour shift every third day.
There are several advantages to having three trucks in operation, Bennington said. The department is doing more transports to Columbus hospitals which means the trucks are tied up for longer periods of time; a third truck helps to fill the gaps, he said. Also, many runs require two trucks to respond at a time; having a third truck allows the department to respond to simultaneous calls.
“It’s rare that all three of those trucks are sitting and not on calls,” Bennington said.
He noted that the cost of providing emergency medical services–fuel, equipment and vehicles–has skyrocketed in the past 10 years.
In the near future, the department will need to replace the cardiac monitoring units on its trucks. The units cost $50,000 each. Additionally, the EMD has a new chassis on order for one of its medics.
“We decided to do this instead of buy a brand new medic. We’re trying to be fiscally responsible with the money,” Bennington said.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election is Oct. 4. Absentee voting starts on Oct. 5.
For more information, contact the Madison County Board of Elections at (740) 852-9424. The office is located at 1423 State Rte. 38 SE, London. Hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Board of Elections is seeking poll workers; to inquire, call 852-9424.