Smaller tax levy sought for Orange Township fire department


A tax levy for the Orange Township Fire Department will be on the Nov. 3 ballot and, if passed, would lower taxes now paid for the department.

A new three-year, 7-mill tax levy is intended to replace an existing three-year, 7.5-mill levy passed in 2013. If passed, the amount collected from property tax owners for the fire department would decrease slightly.

“The current 7.5-mill levy costs a $100,000 homeowner $223.27 annually,” said Shari Baker, director of tax administration and consumer services at the Delaware County Auditor’s office. “The proposed 7.0-mill levy would cost the same homeowner $207.64, a decrease of $15.63 (annually).”

Of course, if voters reject the levy, property owners’ tax bills would be lowered by the entire amount now collected.

Orange Township Fire Chief Matt Noble said the lower millage being sought is possible because of a series of cutbacks the township negotiated with township firefighters. Noble said township firefighters now pay into their pensions and health insurance directly and, through attrition, a number of positions have been cut.

Noble added that the number of minimum staff on hand has decreased and equipment has not been repaired. Noble said that an assistant fire chief and an administrative assistant position were also cut.

Noble said passage of the new levy would allow the fire department to make improvements to several pieces of equipment and replace equipment that is too old.

“We want to continue to provide a level of service, fire, EMS and rescue that residents expect,” Noble said.

Noble said a capital improvement plan would be put in place to maintain equipment, several positions would be made full-time positions and a medic would be kept on hand more often — if the levy passes. “We can’t do that without a levy.”

The defeat of this levy would leave the township with one more chance to get the levy back on the ballot before it expires next November. Noble said failure would mean even more cutbacks. He added that the department would have “a hard time functioning without funds.”

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG

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