Liberty Township trustees will ask voters to approve a renewal levy this fall to benefit the township’s fire department.
Trustees unanimously approved a resolution declaring the necessity for the 5-year, 5.6-mill renewal levy during their meeting on Tuesday. If voters pass the levy, it would commence in 2018 and the first collection would be due in 2019.
“The nice part about it is actually with the renewal is, it will continue to pay for the next six years the same amount they have been paying because we still have a year left,” said Fire Chief Tom O’Brien. “It will make the whole process seamless so when we hit 2019 things will keep right on going.”
O’Brien said the department has reviewed a number of avenues for generating revenue and considered more effective ways to budget its funds so as not to depend solely on the levy.
“We have one more large capital purchase that we are trying to get out of the way next year pending what happens with the levy,” he said. “We’ve run the numbers out, even with the levy things will be tight but with good management and making the best use of our funds … we’re in good shape.”
Trustee Shyra Eichhorn mentioned that O’Brien has developed a 20-year master plan for the department. She told the chief she was excited to see that the levy is a renewal and told him he had her full support in pursuing the levy. Trustees Melanie Leneghan and Tom Mitchell also voiced support for O’Brien.
According to the language of the resolution, it is a “renewal of an existing tax in excess of the 10 mill limitation to provide for fire protection. The levy will be for five years commencing in 2018 and first due in calendar year 2019.”
The resolution states that it will next be sent to Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa to certify the “current tax valuation” and “the dollar amount of revenue that would be generated by the levy of 5.6 mills, if said tax is approved by the electors.”
O’Brien told The Gazette Wednesday that the township sought assistance from the county prosecutor’s office to prepare the language of the resolution.
“This is the first step to start the process to put the levy on the November ballot,” said Township Administrator Matt Huffman. “We’re just wanting to make sure we get everything done in time to get it on the ballot for November.”
In other business, Jason Smith was sworn in as the township’s newest firefighter and paramedic. Smith’s wife, Holly Smith, joined him as for the occasion.
“One of the greatest things in a chief’s career is to watch a new firefighter to start his career,” O’Brien said.
Trustees approved a resolution adopting an opt-down policy in conjunction with the township’s health benefits opt-out plan that become effective June 2. The resolution states, “the township will continue to provide a cash payment to officers and employees who completely opt-out of the township’s health benefits.”
Fiscal Officer Nancy Denutte said some employees had opt-down in health benefits by removing their family members from coverage then take the cash-in-lieu payments for the family members. She said the practice was pointed out in the township’s recent financial audit by the Auditor of State.
Denutte said the practice was illegal and the resolution officially put an end to the practice.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.