Hilliard Northwest News

May 6 election

Brown Township asking for 5.12-mill fire levy

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Brown Township residents will be asked to approve a 5.12-mill fire levy on the May 6 primary ballot.

The Brown Township trustees previously said they had decided to seek the fire levy, but they made the decision official Jan. 20 with the unanimous adoption of a resolution asking the Franklin County Board of Elections to place the issue on the ballot.

The board of elections requires government entities to file ballot requests no later than 90 days prior to the May 6 election.

If approved, the 5.12-mill levy would become effective Jan. 1, 2015.

It would generate $455,016 annually and would cost property owners an additional $179 a year per $100,000 of assessed property value, Brown Township Fiscal Officer Greg Ruwe said.

The fire levy is needed in order for Brown Township to meet its financial obligation to Norwich Township for fire and EMS services for Brown Township's approximately 650 households.

Brown Township has two fire levies already on the books, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office: a 1994 levy with an effective millage of 4.15 and a 2004 levy with an effective millage of 2.74.

In 2014, the two Brown Township levies will combine to generate about 6.88 mills, costing township property owners $210.79 per $100,000 of assessed property value, according to the auditor's office.

Meanwhile, Norwich Township's effective fire levy millage for 2014 will be 11.5 mills, said Norwich Township Fiscal Officer Jamie Miles.

According to the terms of the contract between Brown and Norwich townships, residents of both townships are required to maintain identical effective millage rates for receiving the same services.

Norwich Township voters approved a 4.12-mill fire levy in May 2013.

To keep pace, Brown Township put a 4.66-mill fire levy on the November ballot, but voters rejected it.

Now, Brown Township needs the same amount it sought in the 4.66-mil levy request, plus a small millage increase to cover the amount the township will lose in 2014 when no additional revenue is being collected, trustees said.

The contract between the townships does not address what was to occur if Brown Township's fire levy failed, but Norwich Township officials agreed to continue providing fire services while Brown Township makes another levy request.

In the aftermath of the rejected levy, Brown Township trustees said they were surprised at the result and acknowledged they did little to promote the levy.

Trustee Joe Martin said Jan. 20 the township has formed a committee to promote the fire levy.

Tim Shade has agreed to serve as the chairman, Trustee Gary Dever said.

Martin said he would work to name a secretary and has already reserved a Facebook page to help promote the levy.

Norwich Township Fire Chief Bob Kaufman, Assistant Chief Jeff Warren, Battalion Chief Greg Young and Lt. Vic Lantz all have agreed to serve on the committee, which has no formal name yet.

"We're willing to do whatever we can to help," Kaufman said.

In other business Jan. 20:

* Brown Township trustees approved a policy to place a sign at Brown Township Hall declaring the building a weapons-free zone. An identical sign already is in place at the Brown Township administrative offices and Norwich Township Station 82, housed in the same building.

Township resident Mike Harrold challenged the policy.

"Someone intent on coming in here and doing harm isn't going to care (about a sign)," he said.

Harrold said such signs only inform a would-be shooter that no one else in the building is armed.

Harrold also said the signs might deter people from renting the township hall for social events.

"That's OK," Trustee Pam Sayre said.

Lantz said the sign was posted at the fire station in keeping with the department's policy prohibiting firefighters from carrying concealed weapons at the station.

Martin concurred that while permission should have been sought from Brown Township trustees, it was moot because trustees support a policy prohibiting concealed weapons.

* Trustees discussed a reimbursement policy for residents whose mailboxes are damaged by township snowplows or lawn mowers.

Trustees agreed that reimbursement will be made only if a plow or mower directly strikes a mailbox.

Mailboxes sustaining damage from natural or foreign material a snow blade or mower throws will not be replaced, Dever said.

Sayre said she supported paying residents a universal stipend for damages; Martin said the township should replace a mailbox with one of similar size and material on a case-by-case basis.

The trustees opted to have legal counsel review the policy before adopting it.

* Martin was elected chairman and Sayre was elected vice chairwoman at the start of the meeting, the first of 2014.

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