Next week, voters in Orange Township will decide on an additional tax levy that would benefit fire and EMS services in the township.
The tax would be at a rate of 2 mills for a three-year cycle and would be first collected in 2024. If passed, the tax is expected to generate an additional $3,277,000 in each of three years. In 2021, voters approved the renewal of an existing three-year, 7-mill fire levy.
The official ballot language reads, “An additional tax for the benefit of Orange Township 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 that the county auditor estimates will collect $3,277,000 annually, at a rate not exceeding 2 mills for each $1 of taxable value, which amounts to $70 for each $100,000 of the county auditor’s appraised value, for 3 years, commencing in 2023, first due in calendar year 2024.”
Orange Township Fire Chief Nathan McNeil said with the rising costs of purchasing equipment, maintaining that equipment, facility maintenance, and everything associated with running the department, the operation has come to a point where it is spending more money than it receives from the current levy.
“If we’re turned down by voters, we’re basically going to have to come back to the table and try again,” McNeil said. “At the end of the day, this is something we do need. If we did not pass the levy, there’s a chance in the next year that we’d have to do some layoffs and possibly reduce our services because, with the cost to do business anymore, we’re not able to maintain it with the current levy.”
McNeil said he understands that money is currently tight for many people, and no one wants to hear about additional taxes. However, he did note the levy would be calculated based on current property valuations and not the results of the revaluations.
“The amount is what it is right now. We’re not getting more because of the revaluation, and they’re not paying more,” he said.
McNeil added, “We have a great community that supports us, and we try to give our best. A new motto we’ve put on our trucks is ‘our best for your worst.’ We’re going to give our best training, our best attitude, and our best effort for the day they call upon us. That’s what we’re here for, and we just need to make sure that we can continue that into the future. That’s what the additional ask is for, to allow us to make sure we have the proper amount of training, the proper amount of firefighters, the proper amount of everything we need to make sure we’re at our best for their worst day.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.