Township tries another fire levy

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By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

The Franklin Township trustees plan to place a levy on the ballot this fall.

At a recent meeting, the board approved allowing the fire department to solicit the Franklin County Auditor’s Office for levy funding amounts. The department will be asking for a 15, 16, 17 or 18-mill levy.

“This will actually be a good thing for residents,” said Don Cook, Franklin Township trustee. “We will be eliminating all the other levies we have and combining them into one levy, plus the extra mills we need.”

Township leaders said the new levy would add approximately $60 to $70 to township taxpayers a year, or 20 cents a day.

“If you have a heart attack or a fire in your home and need help, I think 20 cents a day is worth it,” Cook said. “People pay the same for insurance; this is the same concept. You pay for it and hope you never have to use it.”

Fire officials say without this levy, the department as it currently stands, would not be able to exist. Officials predict they would have to close a station and lay off at least 10 firefighters.

“We have had three failed levies now, so we are giving this one more shot,” said Franklin Township Fire Chief Jim Welch. “If the voters reject this in November, we will have to listen to them and move forward the best way we can.”

The department is sustaining its staff due to a $1.4 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant received in 2015. However, once the grant expires in 2017, they are right back to where they were prior to receiving the grant.

“We keep losing money from the state, which means we have to live within our means,” Welch said. “If the residents of Franklin Township want to keep the services they currently have, we have to pass a levy. If not, then the services they receive will be greatly reduced.”

The firefighters plan on doing outreach to educate voters in the township about the importance of this levy.

“This is due or die so we need to make sure everyone understands this,” said Chas Adams, assistant fire chief. “We will be out canvassing, as well as having public meetings to educate everyone.”

At the coming meetings, the trustees plan to set an exact amount they will be asking taxpayers for, as well as determine if it will be a permanent or timed levy.

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