The Canal Winchester Times

Violet Township

Fire department to seek first levy in 12 years

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

It's been 12 years since the Violet Township Fire Department asked area voters to approve a levy in 2002.

That streak looks to be over as the Violet Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a "Resolution of Necessity" Jan. 15, initiating the first step of a process to place a 3.8-mill fire levy on the May primary election ballot.

Violet Township Fire Chief John Eisel said the last fire levy in 2002 was 3.85 mills, which was supported by voters.

"It was promised to the voters that we would not ask for more funds for at least five years," Eisel said.

"We have been able to make those funds last 12 years," he said.

He said according to the certificate from the Fairfield County Auditor, a 3.8-mill levy would equate to an additional cost of $133 annually for the owner of a $100,000 residence.

The levy would generate an additional $3.7 million annually based on the nearly $990 million property valuation of the entire fire department service area, Eisel said.

With Violet Township's population approaching 40,000, Eisel said it is imperative the fire department keep pace with the needs of a growing community.

"Our expenses and demand have increased, and we have been able to weather the economic storm thus far," Eisel said.

"Our growth has been responsible," he said.

"We do not want to be in the position of being reactive," Eisel said.

"Our customers have expectations for a top-notch service in time of need, and it is vital that we deliver that service."

Eisel said the fire department responded to 4,800 incidents in 2013 compared to 2,600 incidents in 2002.

He said fuel costs have also risen substantially.

"In 2002 we spent just over $16,000 for fuel," Eisel said.

"In 2013 that cost has increased to $81,500. That is just one example," he said.

Infrastructure improvements are of paramount concern as well in terms of either updating or replacing both buildings and apparatus, Eisel said.

"We have a great need to replace the station in downtown Pickerington that was constructed in 1954," Eisel said.

"The fire station on Refugee (Road), which was first opened 17 years ago, will need improvements as well," he said.

"We will also need to secure a site for a southern (township) fire station, as that area will continue to grow in the future," Eisel said.

He said the time is right to put a fire levy on the May ballot because his department has "increased and improved our services in every facet we can."

"The last thing we want to do is have to reduce our service levels with the growth and demand we have seen," Eisel said.

"If the voters approve these funds we will make the promise again that we will not have any request for additional funds for five years, and we can continue to deliver the best service possible that they have come to expect and deserve," he said.

The Violet Township Board of Trustees was scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 22, to consider a resolution to approve the proposed levy's ballot.

The deadline to place a levy request on the May ballot is Feb 5.

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