Voters in the Berkshire, Sunbury, Trenton and Galena Joint Fire District (BSTG) approved a 4.85-mill, five-year levy, with two-thirds of the vote, in Tuesday’s special election.
Chief Jeff Wilson was unavailable for comment, but Lt. Rob Stambaugh spoke on the behalf of the district.
“First and foremost, we would like to thank the voters for showing their confidence in us at the polls,” Stambaugh said. “It’s nice to know the people support the district.”
The total number voters who cast was 504 with 336 (66.67 percent) in favor and 168 (33.33 percent) against the levy.
The district asked voters to renew the current 3-mill tax that will expire at the end of 2017, with an additional 1.85-mill increase, to raise $2.4 million annually for district operations.
Stambaugh said passage shows the district is heading in the right direction.
The five-year levy will cost a homeowner $149 per year for a property valuation of $100,000 beginning in 2018.
The county auditor’s office said the additional millage would cost residents, based on a $100,000 home value, an additional $64.75 annually.
Wilson said earlier, the district serves a 52-square-mile area of two townships and two villages where the median value of a home is $256,000. Currently the district is experiencing a surge in housing and commercial developments.
According to a flyer produced by BSTG Fire Levy Committee, the district “responds to roughly 1,000 runs a year” and with the rapid growth the demand for services was going to “exceed the budget.”
Deputy Chief Kevin Kline said passage of the levy will allow them to replace equipment and pay for additional staff for two fully-manned rescue trucks.
“We’re trying to get two rescue trucks out to care for our district so we take care of our own and won’t need to call mutual aid,” he said.
Kline said the district loses a lot of good part-timer firefighters to full-time positions in other departments.
“That hurts us,” he said. “We need to make sure there is a full-time position for them to seek here.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.