Licking County News

Reduced-millage fire levy wins 62 percent of vote


West Licking Joint Fire District board member Mark Van Buren, representing Harrison Township, said he isn't sure why any residents voted against a levy that reduced millage.

However, more than enough residents voted in favor of the five-year, 1.5-mill property tax levy for the fire district.

It replaced a 2-mill levy set to expire at the end of the year.

According to unofficial results from the Licking County Board of Elections, the reduced-millage fire levy was approved by a count of 12,108 votes, or 62 percent, to 7,552 votes, or 38 percent.

"I don't know why people voted against it," said Van Buren, emphasizing that fire board members felt comfortable with the reduced millage because since January the district has been charging "soft billing" on EMS runs.

Soft billing is a collection of insurance receipts only for EMS runs.

District Fiscal Officer Elisabeth Krugh said previously that she projects EMS billing will provide the district with roughly $600,000 in additional revenue this year.

The reduced-millage levy will generate $1.3 million annually and cost $45.94 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value Property owners are paying about $60 annually at the 2-mill rate.

"The board was very pleased," said board member Mike Fox, who represents the city of Pataskala. "We are working on next year's budget. (We are) not sure we will see any (more) reductions soon."

Van Buren agreed with Fox that the board is unlikely to find any more revenue to allow the district to reduce millage further, but he also believes it's unlikely the district would return to the ballot for more money any time soon.

"I'm a firm believer that if we don't need it, don't ask for it," Van Buren said. "All we're doing is renewals. This last (levy) was set to expire."

Van Buren said that eventually, equipment will age and replacement will be necessary, but added preparations for that are "down the road."

The West Licking Joint Fire District was formed in 1982 from the Pataskala and Kirkersville fire departments.

It provides fire protection services for those two communities, as well as Etna, Harrison and Jersey townships and a portion of Reynoldsburg.