New Albany News

Plain Township

Trustees likely will put 2-mill fire levy on fall ballot

By

Plain Township trustees took another look at the fire department's finances June 4 and decided the township likely should ask voters for money in November.

"It looks like we need to pursue a 2-mill levy," said David Ferguson, chairman of the trustees board. "We're working on the details."

Fire Chief John Hoovler said the fire department would have a $1.1 million deficit by fiscal year 2016, based on what the department currently collects from taxpayers.

Hoovler said if the township does not seek a levy, the annual carryover would be reduced to $100,000 by the end of 2015.

The fire department currently collects money from four voter-approved permanent levies totaling 12.2 mills.

The levies are used for operating costs and generated $3,636,553 from residential and commercial properties in 2013, Township Administrator Ben Collins said.

Collins said a 2-mill levy would generate $1.2 million annually, based on current property valuations.

Township officials have not discussed if the levy would be permanent.

The levy likely would cost township homeowners about $70 per $100,000 of assessed property valuation, according to ThisWeek's calculations.

Though the trustees did not take official action June 4, Collins said, if the township waited to put a levy on the ballot in November 2015, it would have to ask for a larger amount.

Ferguson said as the number of runs the department responds to increases and the coverage area grows, the trustees believe it might not be prudent to wait until 2015.

"This is the minimum amount required to maintain the current level of operation and service," Collins said.

Ferguson said the department has been able to stretch the most recent levy passed in 2008 to six years instead of five years as promised.

Ferguson said the township is aware that the New Albany-Plain Local School District also is considering a levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

"We both were successful (with levy campaigns) six years ago," Ferguson said. "We will be supportive of the schools. We're looking at our options and may not be able to delay. We will work with them to help in any way we can."

To put a levy on the Nov. 4 ballot, Collins said, the trustees must pass a resolution of necessity for a levy and request that the Franklin County Auditor's Office certify the amount a levy would collect. After that, they could approve legislation to put the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The township would have to approve all the required legislation before the Aug. 6 filing deadline, Collins said.

Hoovler's budget estimates for the next five years include capital improvements to the fire station on Johnstown Road, equipment purchases and hiring one new position.

Hoovler included $125,000 in fiscal year 2015 to replace the roof on the fire station on Johnstown Road.

That was one of the recommended building improvements from an assessment of the structure and systems at the fire station being completed by Kevin S. Hoffman Associates Architects of Columbus and Roger D. Fields and Associates of Columbus.

Hoovler's projections also included a 2.5 percent annual salary increase for firefighters and a 12 percent annual increase in health-care costs.

Comments