Voters will decide Tuesday whether to support improved emergency services Tuesday, with a proposed 0.62 mill, five-year property tax levy for Delaware County 911 services and an additional city income tax dedicated to fire services.

Voters will decide Tuesday whether to support improved emergency services Tuesday, with a proposed 0.62 mill, five-year property tax levy for Delaware County 911 services and an additional city income tax dedicated to fire services.

The city of Delaware has proposed a permanent 0.3-percent increase in the city's income tax for fire services to be added to the city's current income tax of 1.55 percent, which includes 0.4 percent dedicated to fire.

If the levy passes, the total rate will rise to 1.85 percent, of which 0.7 percent will be dedicated to fire services. The additional amount paid by a person earning $50,000 annually would be $150, while the amount paid by someone earning $30,000 annually would be $90.

Fire chief John Donahue said the city would replace a ladder truck, build a new fire station and hire new fire fighters and EMS personnel.

Donahue said the city has been slowly losing ground during the past 10 years as its fire rating has degraded, especially when considering the standards applicable to number of personnel and available equipment.

Donahue said such ratings not only reflect general quality of fire service, but also have a direct financial impact on homeowners, whose insurance rates are set in part on the basis of the rating. Donahue said a study done by nearby Genoa Township concluded that a change in rating from class 5 to class 4 would save homeowners $75 annually in house insurance costs. The city is currently rated class 4, but whereas in 1998 it was close to being a class 3 service, now it is close to being a class 5 service. If fire service only were rated, excluding communications and water supply, the fire service would be rated a class 6, Donahue said.

Delaware County voters will decide whether to replace an existing 0.45-mill property tax for county 911 communications services with a 0.62-mill property tax that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $18.99 annually.

Delaware County director of emergency communications Bob Greenlaw said some residents have been concerned that the proposed levy overlaps the existing five year levy by one year. Doing so, he said, will save voters a higher rate next year.

"The alternative was to let the current levy expire but then do a 0.75-mill levy," Greenlaw said. "That would cost the taxpayer more (per year) than the way we're doing it. We want to pay as you go, pay off some expenses now, never be in a hole that people have to bail out (of) in the future. It scares me all this (state and national) deficit we've got going, I don't know how my children and grandchildren are ever going to pay it off. We put on a 0.62 levy on top of the 0.45 levy the first year, then after that it stays at 0.62 (when the 0.45 levy expires)."