Planning for capital improvements is a priority for Powell and Liberty Township officials in 2013, but the township's emergency fire levy headed for the Feb. 5 ballot is sure to overshadow other developments at the start of 2013.
Residents and local officials are kicking off the new year by campaigning for a five-year, 5.6-mill levy to save the Liberty Township Fire Department after a 6.6-mill levy was defeated in November.
Divisive campaign efforts dominated headlines last year, but the new measure has the backing of all elected city and township officials.
"If February comes and we get the word that we passed it, then we move forward knowing we have the ability to borrow to make ends meet," said Township Administrator Dave Anderson. "If that doesn't happen, we start laying off firefighters, sending them home and closing the fire department down."
Meanwhile, township officials are contemplating a number of capital improvements, including the construction of a new, bigger salt barn at South Liberty Park and a variety of bike-path extensions around the community.
Volunteers will continue in 2013 to investigate ways to save the Orange Road Bridge, which was declared structurally unsound by county officials.
The task force working on the project is expected to offer a final recommendation to the board of trustees in February or March.
Area seniors could continue to enjoy a brand-new service offered by the county in 2013: A new service coordinator working from the Sawmill Parkway fire station will connect residents ages 60 and up with medical care and other services they need to stay healthy, independent and in their homes longer.
Anderson said township staff also is focused on seeking economic development opportunities in the new year and will work to find cost-savings measures with a budget stretched to the limit.
In Powell, officials are kicking off efforts to implement city upgrades after voters approved a 10-year capital improvements levy in November.
On the docket are various road and sewer repairs, completion of the Murphy Parkway extension, construction of a new park on Seldom Seen Road and new bike paths.
The levy won't collect revenue until 2014, but City Manager Steve Lutz said planning and engineering measures this year will pave the way for construction next year.
The city hopes to have a full master plan in place for Seldom Seen Park before the end of the year, Lutz said.
Public meetings will give residents a chance to weigh in on the specifics of the projects, he said.
"There will be many opportunities for elected officials, city staff and residents to discuss the issues and review alternatives before we settle on final decisions, so, for example, we can incorporate those views in the design of (the Murphy Parkway extension)," Lutz said.
Meanwhile, Powell residents will head to the polls again in May to vote on a number of amendments to the city charter.