Primary elections provide an opportunity to pass local levies to produce increased revenues for fire services. These revenues may be for replacing old equipment, building new stations, or hiring new staff. Below are four levies proposed and passed that will help bring much needed financial assistance to these local fire departments.
For reference, “mills” are broken down into dollars taxed per $1,000 in assessed property value on local property taxes:
Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennet recently told the Journal News in Butler County, Ohio, that “we are at a critical point with the fire department that we can no longer sustain the required level of service under this staffing model, using career and part-time personnel.”
Chief Bennet, like so many around the country, is dealing with chronic staffing issues stemming from underfunding. To remedy this problem, the township is asking residents to approve a new levy for 9.25 mills, which would eliminate two previous ones amounting to a combined 7.15 mills. The measure would allow the department to employ only full-time firefighters and reduce overtime costs.
“The owner of a $150,000 home pays $485.63 a year, which is $195.63 more than what they now pay,” reports to the Journal News.
Results: Passed, with 65.86% of the votes in favor.
The city of Loveland is asking its residents to approve a new levy recently approved by City Council to be put on the ballot. Residents of the city share fire services with a neighboring community, Symmes Township, but this requested 1.75 mill levy is only on the ballot for the residents of Loveland, as those of Symmes passed a similar levy in 2020.
If approved, the levy would last for five years and be used for “fire and/or EMS-related expenses such as equipment, vehicles, training, etc.,” according to the city government’s website.
Results: Passed, with 62% of the votes in favor.
Grass Lake Township, Michigan
In Jackson County, Michigan, Grass Lake Charter Township Fire Department is asking voters for a funding increase to put towards the department’s equipment and vehicle replacement fund. According to M Live, “The proposal gives voters the option to renew the tax limitation of 1.1849 mills…as well as approve an increase of .4551 mills for a total levy of 1.64 mills.”
Fire Chief Greg Jones says the increase would give the department an additional $80,000 in funding to replace a 2002 rescue vehicle known as Rescue-1 and a 1993 Ford F-350. “We’ve been putting as much as we can aside for those vehicles. It’s just that the cost and the inflation is ahead of us,” he says.
Forest Grove, Oregon
The fire services of Forest Grove, Oregon have been facing increased calls and are asking residents to approve a new levy which would help them add staff. The town notes, “The Department receives on average 10.5 emergency calls per day or 3,800 per year. Calls continue to increase by about 200 per year. As a result, response times to emergency calls increased about 5% last year and response reliability – the ability to respond to two calls at once – declined to 83%…”
The new measure would take effect in 2023, raising an existing levy at $1.60 per 1,000 assessed value to $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed value, and would last for 5 years.
Results: Passed, with 60% of the votes in favor.
More Ballot Measures Coming in 2022
Local fire services across the country are struggling and will be using ballot measures to get new levies passed in order to keep functioning and serving their communities. Keep checking fireandemsfund.com for updates.
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