Hilliard Northwest News

Brown Township

Failed levy sends officials back to drawing board

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Brown Township officials must develop a contingency plan after voters rejected a 4.66-mill fire levy in the Nov. 5 election.

According to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections, the levy was defeated by a count of 222 votes against, or 56.5 percent of the votes cast, to 171 votes in favor, or 43.5 percent.

The fire levy would have generated an additional $142.71 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value and would have created an identical effective millage rate for Brown and Norwich township residents.

Norwich Township provides fire suppression and emergency-medical services to Brown Township's approximately 650 households, and its voters approved a 4.12-mill fire levy in May.

Now, Brown Township officials need find out a way to match the effective millage rate Norwich Township residents will pay, a provision in the township's contract with Norwich Township.

Calling it "too premature," Fiscal Officer Greg Ruwe would not comment about Brown Township's immediate reaction to the levy failure, other than the township would need either to borrow against its general fund or place the issue on the ballot again.

"I'm disappointed in the outcome (of the levy)," Ruwe said last week, adding that he had not yet had an opportunity to discuss it with trustees.

"But it has to be taken care of," Ruwe said.

Ruwe said he expects to have the first opportunity to discuss the issue with Brown Township trustees at their meeting Monday, Nov. 18.

Even with a levy on the ballot next year, Brown Township trustees would need to address how to find the necessary funds for next year because no new funds would be collected until Jan. 1, 2015.

Norwich Township Trustee Larry Earman said fire suppression and emergency-medical services would continue to be provided to Brown Township, but township officials need to find a solution.

"The contract (for emergency services) calls for Brown Township to pay the same rate," Earman said.

Brown Township will pay Norwich Township $610,819 for such services in 2013, Earman said.

The amount Brown Township will owe in 2014 would be marginally greater, but the exact amount cannot be calculated until property-tax evaluations are finalized, expected by the end of the year, Earman said.

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