Voters answered the bell for the Violet Township Fire Department Tuesday, May 6, by overwhelmingly approving a 3.8-mill fire levy on Tuesday’s May 6 primary election ballot.
Unofficial final results as of 11:30 p.m. show the issue was being approved 63 percent (2,299 votes) to 37 percent (1,355 votes).
The additional revenue will allow the department to forge ahead with systemwide infrastructure improvements and upgrades.
“The Violet Township Fire Department couldn’t be more proud of the support we received from the citizens of Violet Township,” said John Eisel, Violet fire chief.
“We will fulfill our promises and continue to be great stewards of public funds, and most importantly the public trust,” said Eisel, who added he wanted to give “a sincere thank you to our community for their continued support.”
The 3.8-mill fire property tax levy will cost an additional $133 per year for the owner of a $100,000 residence in Violet Township. It will generate an additional $3.7 million annually.
Violet Township Fire Chief John Eisel said the department’s budget for 2013 was about $6.8 million a year and the levy will increase that budget to roughly $10.5 million a year.
The fire department’s strategic plan for the next five years outlines immediate and future needs.
The department is looking to expend about $6 million for facility upgrades including $3.3 million for the replacement of Station 591 on Lockville Road in Olde Pickerington Village, $1.2 to substantially overhaul Refugee Road Station 592, and $1.2 million for site acquisition of a future facility, Station 594, in the growing southern corridor of Violet Township.
That strategic plan also calls for about $3.2 million to replace outdated vehicles and equipment.
Eisel said the increase to the department’s budget is necessary to keep pace with the area’s growth.
The last time the fire department placed a funding issue on the ballot was 2002.
Since then, Eisel said the 42-square-mile service area has grown from a population of 26,000 to a little less than 40,000.
Fire officials are projecting by 2020 run volumes will increase another 35 percent.
Eisel said first-quarter numbers for 2014 showed a 19.8-percent increase in run volume over the same period in 2013.
Eisel said about 90 percent of the department’s funding is through property tax revenue and 8 percent is through emergency medical services revenue recovery, in which the department is reimbursed by insurance companies or individuals for emergency services rendered.
The other 2 percent of the budget is achieved by whatever the department can garner either through grants or from the sale of used equipment, Eisel said.