Rocky Fork Enterprise

Jefferson Township survey

Residents' ratings sought on EMS, emergency responders

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Some Jefferson Township residents might receive a call next week about their local emergency responders.

Township administrator Tom Spring said a phone survey by Fallon Research and Communications is expected to occur around July 14-17.

"Questions are being drafted and reviewed and haven't been finalized so it would be premature to speculate," he said. "However, most of it is geared toward fire and emergency medical services. For example, there may be questions designed to ascertain resident opinions or perceptions concerning response times, service levels and funding. I also anticipate a few questions concerning township roads."

The cost of the survey is $10,000, Spring said.

Jefferson Township trustees chairman Mike Rowan said the survey is expected to include a sample of about 300 township residents who are registered voters.

"Right now we're looking at questions we want to ask, making sure the questions aren't confusing," he said.

The trustees voted May 30 to remove a 3-mill levy for fire services from the Aug. 5 ballot. A proposed 2-mill levy failed by 66 votes May 6, with 1,100, or 51.55 percent, voting against the levy and 1,034, or 48.45 percent, voted for it.

When the trustees voted in May to place the issue on the August ballot, Rowan said, they didn't have time to think about it.

"We had an August or November option," he said. "We wanted two options. When we put it on, we had less than 24 hours to make a decision. We put it on to have the option.

"Everyone we consulted advised that the August election wasn't a good choice," he said. "We would have had to pay for it, and the turnout would be low. It would have been a risk. It didn't give us time to run a good educational program to let residents know what we're doing and why."

Rowan said the township is putting forth a lot of effort into getting residents' opinions.

"We're doing the survey to find out what they want," he said.

Rowan said the trustees would like to convert renewal levies into permanent levies so they don't have to repeatedly go to the voters.

A renewal levy expires at the end of this year, followed by others in 2015 and 2017.

He said the fire department has a temporary 5-mill levy.

"We haven't decided on the (levy) package," Rowan said. "We will definitely try to convert into permanent levies. It's a matter of how we combine them."

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

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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