Delaware County’s 911 board on Tuesday agreed to ask for approval of a five-year tax levy that would generate $4.28 million each year for emergency 911 telephone service.
If county commissioners agree to place the issue before voters, it would be on the November ballot.
If approved by voters, the new levy would replace a tax levy that now generates $2.25 million annually. It expires at the end of 2016.
The current levy is based on 0.45 mills for property tax purposes. The new levy would include the 0.45 mills and add another 0.27 mills to it.
“The levy is crucial to the operation of 911,” said board member Tom Homan, Delaware’s city manager.
The larger levy is needed to make upgrades to the 911 system over the next five years, according to Patrick Brandt, director of 911 services for Delaware County. The county will either repair or replace a tower in the southeast corner of the county that is creating a “dead spot.” The county is also planning to add text-messaging to the 911 system for the hearing impaired.
What’s next? The language of the proposed levy is to be written by the county prosecutor’s office before going to the county commissioners for a vote on whether it goes on the ballot.
“We want to make sure the ballot language meets the criteria of the Secretary of State,” Brandt said. “Once done there, we will get it on the agenda with the board of (county) commissioners.”
Last month, state lawmakers approved legislation that would prevent the tax from being levied against taxpayers in Delaware County municipalities — Dublin, Westerville and Columbus — that are served by another 911 service. The bill is awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature.
The double-taxation issue was discovered by county officials while they were discussing renewal of the existing 911 tax levy for the November ballot. County officials then asked State Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, to sponsor a bill to resolve the issue, Brandt told The Gazette earlier.
Before the board can present the proposed levy to commissioners, the bill has to be signed by Kasich. Because the bill contains an emergency clause, it becomes effective immediately once Kasich signs it.
“If I get it back from the prosecutor’s office next week, I can’t do anything in front of the board of commissioners until the ink is dry,” Brandt said.
Jeff Wilson, chief of BST&G Fire District, and Homan will make the presentation to commissioners, Brandt said.
Even with the existing 911 tax levy, the county general fund has had to subsidize 911 services in the past. Budgeted in 2016 is $456,000 from the general fund. If the new levy is passed by voters in November, the county general fund would no longer have to subsidize 911 service.
“It’s just now we need to get out and educate the public on what we are trying to do and what the goals of the (911) center are,” Brandt said.
If the new levy is passed, the annual cost in property taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home would be $22.63.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the county general fund contributes $456,000 each year for 911 services.