Berlin Township is seeking voter approval of a 2.95-mill, five-year fire department levy on Nov. 7.
“Manpower is the focus of this levy,” said Assistant Fire Chief Joe Pichert. “We’re trying to be proactive because we know the growth is coming.”
If approved by voters, the levy will be in addition to the existing 2.98-mill levy that was passed in May 2015. Pichert said that the two separate levies will be collected at the same time.
According to the fire department’s information sheet, the proposed 2.95-mill levy “will cost a property owner an additional $103.25 annually per $100,000 of property value.” The existing “2.98 mill levy costs $85.06 annually.”
Pichert said the department’s service area is “22.5 square miles” with “7000 residents” and is quickly growing with the addition of the Evans Farm housing development and the new high school, Olentangy Berlin. He said he thought the average cost of a home in Berlin Township was around $265,000.
According to the information sheet, Berlin Township’s fire department is funded exclusively by the existing 2.98-mill levy and if passed, the 2.95-mill levy. No funds are used from the township’s general fund to support the fire department.
Pichert said the department employs three full-time and 23 part-time professional firefighters. The passage of the levy will allow the department to increase the number of firefighters on duty from two to three, at all times, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Pichert said the board of trustees established a fire committee in 2009. Their recommendation was to replace the out-of-date equipment and add firefighters by seeking an additional levy.
“The trustees and the citizen group said, ‘we know you’re going to need more money,’” he said. “More personnel will help when we get on the scene because we’ll be more efficient and it will help reduce the person’s stress.”
Pichert said the department has worked to establish a replacement schedule for equipment so that the cost doesn’t hit all at the same time.
“The equipment for the most part has a 10 to 15 year useful life,” Pichert said. “We’re coming to the end of that time. We want to get a handle on it before we start having to repair it all and dumping money into it.”
The ballot language for the levy reads, “An additional tax for the benefit of Berlin Township, Delaware County, Ohio for the purpose of providing and maintaining fire apparatus, mechanical resuscitators, underwater rescue and recovery equipment, or other fire equipment and appliances, buildings and sites therefor, or sources of water supply and materials therefor, for the establishment and maintenance of lines of fire-alarm communications, for the payment of firefighting companies or permanent, part-time, or volunteer firefighting, emergency medical service, administrative, or communications personnel to operate the same, including the payment of any employer contributions required for such personnel under section 145.48 or 742.34 of the Revised Code, for the purchase of ambulance equipment, for the provision of ambulance, paramedic, or other emergency medical services operated by a fire department or firefighting company, or for the payment of other related costs at a rate not exceeding 2.95 mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.295 for each one hundred dollars of valuation, for 5 years, commencing in 2017, first due in calendar year 2018.”
The Delaware County Board of Elections Vote Center is open for early voting through Monday, Nov. 6. For information about Vote Center hours, visit delawareboe.org.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.