If approved by voters on the Nov. 2 ballot, Issue 50 is expected to generate about $4-million more annually than the Washington Township Fire Department currently collects.

If approved by voters on the Nov. 2 ballot, Issue 50 is expected to generate about $4-million more annually than the Washington Township Fire Department currently collects.

Issue 50, the township's fire-EMS levy, is asking voters to approve a five-year, 8.25-mill levy, which would replace an expiring levy of 7.25 mills and add a mill.

Voters approved the current levy in 2005. It collects $13.57-million annually. The fire department also collects about $3-million each year from permanent fire levies.

If approved, Issue 50 is expected to generate $17.6-million annually and would cost a total of $252.66 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value, or a $66 increase per $100,000. The existing 7.25-mill levy is collecting at 6.1 mills and costs about $187 per $100,000 annually.

According to public-information officer Leslie Dybiec, the increase is needed to maintain the current level of service the Washington Township Fire Department provides and to replace some equipment.

"We need to replace our self-contained breathing apparatus," she said. "We use those every day. A lot of them are 20 years old."

The fire department plans to replace 50 of the units, at a total cost of $400,000.

Dybiec said firefighter turnout gear also needs to be replaced.

"To keep it up to standards, we need to buy 103 sets of those at $75,000," she said.

The increase also would help shore up the fire department's bottom line. With the phasing out of the tangible personal property tax, Dybiec expects the fire department to lose about $1.5-million annually.

The fire department has an $18.2-million budget in 2010, and $17.1-million of that goes to operating expenses such as salaries, training and maintenance.

The fire department has 97 full-time and 47 part-time firefighters who all are emergency medical technicians. Ninety percent of Washington Township firefighters also are paramedics, Battalion Chief Alec O'Connell said.

The Washington Township Fire Department covers 28 square miles, more than 40,000 residents and a daytime population over 75,000.

O'Connell said daytime is when most calls come in. The fire department logged 4,043 in 2009. Of those calls, 69 percent were for emergency medical services.

"The calls go up by about 100 runs per year," O'Connell said, adding that numbers can plateau from year to year.

"When the (Dublin Methodist) hospital went in Dublin, calls plateaued a bit because people were taking themselves to the hospital," he said.

A local hospital also helps make runs shorter and gets units back in service more quickly, O'Connell said.

With four fire stations spread around its territory, the Washington Township Fire Department's average response time is 6 minutes.

jnoblit@thisweeknews.com

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