By Dedra Cordle
Jackson Township trustees have approved the annual appropriations budget at its meeting on Nov. 23.
The 2022 budget calls for the appropriation of nearly $30 million, an increase of more than $8 million from the previous year.
According to township officials, the rise in appropriated dollars are attributed to planned wage increases for all of its employees, the rising cost of inflation for capital improvement project materials, and the likely purchase of a ladder truck for the fire department.
In the $30 million budget, the largest financial appropriations come at the fire department, which will spend approximately $16 million on salaries and benefits for its staff of close to 100. Those monies also include a board approved 6.6 percent cost-of-living raise and the hiring of new staff. The board of trustees approved the hiring of one new full-time firefighter and the cost-of-living increase at its meeting on Dec. 7.
Fiscal officer Ron Grossman said the 6.6 percent wage increase was determined by the latest figures in the consumer price index.
Additional fire department expenses included in the 2022 budget are: $235,000 for HazMat meters and equipment; $225,000 in fleet vehicle and fire apparatus repairs; $120,000 for station vehicles; $45,000 for a battalion truck; $29,000 for fire hose replacement; and $18,500 for turnout gear maintenance.
Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Quincel said the department also plans to purchase a $1.5 million ladder truck but payments on the ladder will not likely start until the following year.
Other capital improvements slated for the fire department include new lockers at Station 201 and 202; new flooring and a new sprinkler system at Station 201; concrete replacement in the bays at Station 203 and a kitchen remodel at Station 202.
Grossman said many of these purchases and repairs were only made possible due to the passage of Issue 19, a limited term fire replacement levy that voters approved in 2020.
“The 4-mill levy really put the fire department in a good shape financially,” he said.
He said the department will collect between $4.9 and $5.8 million annually throughout the duration of the five-year term.
He added that the fire department, as well as every other department in the township, will continue to put aside money for future reserves.
The budget calls for the appropriation of $4.1 million in the general fund.
According to Township Administrator Shane Farnsworth, the township has budgeted for a variety of projects, large and small.
“This entire budget is really all about maintenance,” he said. “We are maintaining our roads, we are maintaining our buildings, we are providing upgrades to our fire stations that were put aside under deferred maintenance when we were unsure about the health of our fire fund.
“We are not spending an exorbitant amount of money in this budget, but we do have to spend to maintain the life of these buildings and roads and projects for years to come.”
Included in the capital improvements are $30,000 for the parking lot resurfacing and bike trail maintenance at Tanglebrook Park, $20,000 to seal the parking lot blacktop at the administrative office; $2,500 for technology upgrades at the administrative office; and $20,000 for a pavilion at Tanglebrook Park.
The latter project, said Farnsworth, may be more of a “wish-list” item than an actual expense for 2022.
“We will see how that could work,” he said. “We have not yet looked at what the design could be, how it should be used, and how we could secure the property when not in use.”
Additional appropriations include $50,000 for miscellaneous capital improvement projects and $30,000 for a new website.
Farnsworth said the administrative building is slated to receive new windows as the ones currently in place have lived beyond their usefulness.
“They are really difficult to open and the gears inside are shredded,” he said.
He said the goal is to purchase energy-efficient windows and have them installed by the spring.
The road and bridge fund has appropriations of $875,254 for wage increases, equipment upgrades, and planned maintenance projects.
Farnworth said the township continues to make debt payments on repairs to Borror, Hiner and White roads. He added they will continue to seek grants to help offset repair or resurfacing costs to township roads.
He said the township is hoping to hear from the Ohio Public Works Commission soon regarding small government funding approval for repairs to a number of subdivision streets.