Hilliard Northwest News

Officials say Brown Township needs fire levy to keep pace with Norwich


Voters in Brown Township will be asked to approve a 4.66-mill fire levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The fire levy would generate $163.10 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value for most residents, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

Brown Township contracts with Norwich Township to provide fire suppression and emergency-medical services to its approximately 650 households.

Brown Township Fiscal Officer Greg Ruwe said the levy is necessary to create an effective millage rate for Brown residents equal to what Norwich Township and Hilliard residents pay for the same protection.

"Brown Township's own levy pays for the fire protection we provide ... and our contract calls for (both townships) to be the same," said Norwich Township Trustee Larry Earman. "(The revenue) we get is what they get."

Hilliard and Norwich Township voters approved a 4.12-mill fire levy in May, the first fire levy request since 1998. The levy, which is effective Jan. 1, 2014, will generate an additional $126.18 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Norwich Township and Hilliard residents currently pay about $215 a year per $100,000 of assessed property value for the township's six other fire levies.

A fire levy was last presented to Brown Township residents in 2004 and was approved, Ruwe said.

The 2004 levy was for 3.2 mills and created a then-effective millage rate of about 11.2 mills, Ruwe said.

The current effective millage rate for Brown Township is 6.8 mills; Norwich Township's effective millage rate was 7.34 mills prior to the approval of the fire levy in May.

"The best arrangement (Brown Township) can have for fire protection is our contract with Norwich Township," Ruwe said.

Brown Township's first fire levy, an 8-mill issue, was approved in 1994 in advance of a contract that began in 1998 with Norwich Township. Funds from that levy helped build Norwich's second fire station at Roberts and Walker roads in Brown Township, Ruwe said.

If a Brown Township levy ever were rejected, Norwich Township would continue to provide fire protection and emergency-medical services, but "there would need to be serious discussions" as to how Brown Township officials would remedy the problem, Earman said.

Solutions likely would include a second attempt at a levy or using general fund revenue to balance the fire fund, Earman said.

Separate from the levy, the Dublin Division of Police will begin emergency-dispatching services for Brown Township by virtue of Dublin's new dispatching contract with Norwich Township, effective Oct. 1.

Currently, Hilliard police and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office dispatch for Brown Township residents.

Calls for police service will be dispatched through Hilliard police until mid-January, after which calls for EMS and police will be handled by Dublin.