Pleasant Valley Fire levy on Nov. 5 ballot

(Posted Oct. 25, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Pleasant Valley Joint Fire District is on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, asking for replacement of its 10-mill operating levy for another five years.

The fire district provides emergency medical services and fire suppression to approximately 13,000 residents in an 82-square mile area, including the villages of Plain City and Unionville Center, Canaan and Darby townships in Madison County, and a portion of Darby Township in Union County.

With a levy replacement, the millage stays the same, but the cost to taxpayers is based on updated property values. By comparison, with a levy renewal, the cost is based on property values as they stood when the levy was last passed.

Currently, the fire district’s levy generates $2,426,486 per year. If replaced, it would generate $2,576,126 per year. The cost to the taxpayer would go from $327.95 per year for every $100,000 of property valuation to $350 per year for every $100,000 of property valuation.

Voters have replaced the levy every five years since 1994. The fire district was formed in 1993.

“That has allowed us to grow with the growth of the district and capture the increase in property value without overburdening our residents,” said Chief Mark Kidd.

In addition to EMS and fire suppression, Pleasant Valley Joint Fire is the area’s primary response agency for patient extrication at vehicle accidents, water rescue on Darby Creek and surrounding bodies of water, fire inspections for local businesses and residences, and fire prevention education.

In the five years since the levy was last replaced, the district hired its first full-time fire marshal. This individual oversees the community risk reduction plan, administers safety education programs, performs fire safety inspections, enforces the state’s fire code, and investigates all fires that occur in the district.

The district also has added more full-time personnel in order to have three staffed apparatus available around the clock. Current staffing stands at 17 full-time firefighters, 24 part-time firefighters, and a fiscal officer.

The replacement levy is the district’s main source of funding, covering manpower, utilities, fuel, vehicle maintenance, training and capital expenses. Another levy, passed in 1997, helps with the cost of the district’s new building, located in Plain City, and other purchases. Funding also comes from EMS billing, donations, and local, state and federal grants.

“We are very conscious about being fiscally responsible. I live in the district, so I’m paying for it, too. I want to get my money’s worth, and I’m sure other people do, too,” Kidd said.

As an example, Kidd cited the district’s cash-based budget. The district plans for purchases, setting the money aside so purchases can be paid for when made. The goal is to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars while outfitting firefighters with the best gear and providing residents with top-notch protection, he said.

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