Orange Township aims to have a fire levy on the November ballot.
Township trustees are working toward placing a renewal with a decrease on the ballot, which would lower the collection rate from the current 7.5 mills to 7 mills.
The lower rate is possible because of decreased operational costs after the last round of negotiations with the union representing the township’s firefighters, according to Trustee Rob Quigley. The township’s fire department was also forced to take out a loan to cover expenses after the failure of a 2012 operating levy. The loan will be paid off by the time the township begins collecting on the new levy.
The decision to go to the ballot more than a year before the current levy expires was partially driven by the failure of the 2012 levy, after which township officials scrambled – and almost missed the deadline – to place another levy on the ballot in a February 2013 special election.
“This time we are sort of going back to what we used to do and put it on a year ahead of time so that if something happens we have time to react to it,” said Quigley.
Collections on the levy, if approved, would not begin until 2017, when collections on the current levy will end.
However, Trustee Lisa Knapp said she would prefer to wait until next year to place the measure on the ballot.
“I’m not going to vote ‘no’ on it but it would be my preference that we wait until next year,” she said, adding that she is worried that voters could be suffering from “levy fatigue.”
But both Knapp and Quigley say they believe that voters will be pleased with a decreased levy request.
“The levy is important to maintain our services at the level we are currently at,” Quigley said.
The levy would be collected for a period of three years. As of press time, information on the amount the levy would cost a property owner with a $100,000 valuation and the amount of money the ballot measure would raise annually were unavailable.
Dating back to 1992, township voters have approved eight of nine fire levy requests.Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.