Township moves forward with November fire levy

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

A fire department will once again ask the voters to approve a levy that was recently rejected, saying this is the only option to retain the service residents are used to. At a recent special meeting, Franklin Township leadership approved moving forward with asking voters to approve a levy on the November ballot.

“With the levy failing I am looking to the trustees for guidance on how to proceed,” Franklin Township Fire Chief James Welch said. “If we cannot get a levy to pass, we are going to have to make some tough decisions.”

Welch said that they have already seen firefighters leaving or planning to leave due to the failure of the recent levy.

“Due to our history of having financial issues, the younger guys are looking for new jobs with other departments,” Welch said.

According to Welch, the department will be down approximately $600,000 by the end of the year.

Franklin Township recently asked voters to approve a 19.5-mil permanent levy in the spring. This measure failed with 56 percent of the voters against the levy and 44 percent in favor of the levy.

The levy the township was asking for would have combined all the township levies into one levy, as well as replaced the timed levy that will expire in early 2021. The levy would have collected property taxes from the entire township, including properties that were annexed with a type II annexation.

Many residents voiced concerns over the levy at public meetings before the coronavirus pandemic, saying they had concerns about how much this would increase their property taxes. However, the trustees said the increases would be minimal.

The trustees attributed the failure of the levy to a group that ran a campaign against the levy.

“I think the biggest reason the levy failed was because a group ran a campaign aimed at defeating the levy,” said Aryeh Alex, township trustee. “The group sent out mailers, had a website, ran digital ads and had paid canvassers that went door-to-door across the township.”

Alex said township leaders have no idea who funded the group.

According to Welch, the department is running out of operating funds and will be in a tough situation if another levy is not passed.

The trustees agreed to move forward with adding another levy to the November ballot, but have not determined the amount the levy will be for. They plan on making that decision in the coming weeks.

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