Hilliard Northwest News

Brown Township preparing fire-levy campaign

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The Brown Township trustees have formed a committee to promote a 5.12-mill fire levy on the May primary ballot.

An organizational meeting for the committee is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at Norwich Township Fire Station 82, 2491 Walker Road.

In advance of that meeting, the trustees discussed the goal of the committee Feb. 17.

"We've already talked a little about strategy and the approach we need to take," Trustee Joe Martin said, referring to a Feb. 6 meeting he had with Fiscal Officer Greg Ruwe and Tim Shade, chairman of the committee promoting the fire levy.

"(Shade) is prepared to deal with some of the criticism from the (failed) levy and I think he is the right person for the job," Martin said.

Trustees previously acknowledged little was done last year to promote the purpose and need for the fire levy.

Appearing as Issue 38 on the ballot Nov. 5, 2013, Brown Township voters rejected a 4.66-mill fire levy 222 to 171.

The levy was requested because Brown Township must maintain an identical effective millage rate with residents of Norwich Township, in which voters approved a 4.12-mill fire levy in May 2013. Norwich Township provides fire suppression and EMS services to Brown Township's approximately 650 households, and the identical millage rate is part of the service agreement, according to Norwich Township officials.

Norwich Township is continuing to provide fire protection to Brown Township and is assisting in the promotion of the May levy.

Norwich Township Trustee Chuck Buck attended the Feb. 17 meeting to offer support and advice concerning the levy campaign.

If approved, Brown Township's 5.12-mill fire levy would become effective Jan. 1, 2015, and would generate $455,016 annually. It would cost property owners an additional $179 a year per $100,000 of assessed property value, Ruwe said.

Brown Township residents pay $210.79 per $100,000 of assessed property value, the result of two previous fire levies, in 1994 and 2004, being collected at 4.15 mills and 2.74 mills, respectively.

Brown Township's May 6 primary levy request is almost 0.5 mill more than the previous request to compensate for the revenue that cannot be collected for the 2014 tax year that is owed to Norwich Township for fire protection.

In other action Feb. 17, the Brown Township trustees reversed a previous decision concerning the placement of signs declaring the township hall at 2495 Walker Road as a weapon-free zone.

The trustees voted Jan. 20 to post signs declaring the township hall, adjacent to the Station 82, as a weapon-free zone.

Signs advising visitors to Station 82 that they are prohibited from carrying firearms are in accord with Norwich Township's department-wide policy prohibiting firearms, including firefighters, Norwich Township fire officials said Jan. 20.

Brown Township resident Mike Harrold challenged the policy Jan. 20, claiming such signs only alerted someone intent on harm that no one inside the building was armed.

Harrold was not present Feb. 17, but Trustee Pam Sayre said she had reconsidered her stance.

Sayre asked for the Jan. 20 motion to be amended so as to remove approval of the weapons-free sign at the township hall. Other provisions of the original motion stand and weapons remain prohibited at Station 82.

Martin also provided a technology update, reporting that the township is suspending the practice of mailing newsletters to residents unless specifically requested.

"It will save us a lot of money (not printing and mailing newsletters)," said Ruwe, who estimated the savings at $4,000 to $5,000 annually.

But one place the township will not save money is the purchase of rock salt.

Brown Township has 7 1/2 miles of roads, but in January alone, the township bought more salt than it used in 2012.

Brown Township used about 109 tons of rock salt, purchased at $53.56 per ton, in January.

Figures aren't in for February but the township will pay $75 a ton because of a limited supply, Ruwe said.

In 2013, Brown Township used 145 tons of rock salt, and in 2012, it used 107 tons.

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