Jefferson Township fire levy fails by 66 votes

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A proposed 2-mill levy to sustain current operations at the Jefferson Township Fire Department failed at the polls May 6.

The issue failed 1,100 votes to 1,034 votes, or 51.55 to 48.45 percent, with all 24 precincts reporting as of 2 a.m. May 7, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.

The proposed 2-mill levy was for a continuing period of time and would have generated $933,301.24 annually.

It would have cost residents an additional $70 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Fire Chief Crystal Dickerson told ThisWeek it would be devastating if the levy failed because money generated by the levy is part of current operations.

She said the board of trustees opted to make the typical renewal a continuing levy so the department wouldn’t have to go back to voters every five years for reapproval.

By making it continuing, Dickerson said, the department could focus on annual operations and delivery of services instead of making annual financial contingency plans that are dependent on whether voters reauthorize the same level of funding they previously approved.

With the levy failing, Dickerson said, the trustees would no doubt put it back on the ballot.

“It’s money we use now,” she said. “We would face major cuts. It would be a huge hit.

“We would face layoffs and couldn’t continue operating as we are now. It’s money we already use to sustain operations.”

In addition to using the revenue for current operating expenses, Dickerson said, funds would have been used to replace an aging medic and engine.

The department serves about 11,000 residents within approximately 14 square miles and includes parts of Reynoldsburg, Gahanna and Columbus.

The department was established as a volunteer department in 1967. Since then it has transitioned from volunteers to a combination of full-time and part-time firefighters and paramedics.

 

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