The Violet Township Fire Department can now move full-speed ahead with plans to substantially upgrade and expand its services to township residents now that a 3.8-mill fire levy on the May 6 primary ballot passed with flying colors.
According to the Fairfield County Board of Elections, the final unofficial results show the majority of township voters supported the ballot measure by a large margin -- 62.9 percent for to 37.1 percent against.
The final vote tally showed 2,301 township residents voted for the levy while 1,357 voted against it.
"I can't be more proud of the community and the men and women of this organization that are on the streets, in the homes and businesses each day," said John Eisel, Violet Township Fire Department chief.
"The credit for the success of this levy goes to them," Eisel said.
Assistant Fire Chief Michael Little called the win "a great day for us and the community."
"The department will be able to move forward with plans for a new Station 591 and apparatus replacement," Little said.
The 3.8-mill property tax levy will cost an additional $133 per year for the owner of a $100,000 residence in Violet Township.
It will generate an additional $3.7 million annually and increase the department's budget from about $6.8 million in 2013 to roughly $10.5 million a year once the money is received.
The levy's passage means the department will forge ahead with a five-year strategic plan to address immediate and future needs.
The systemwide improvement stratagem calls for spending about $6 million for facility upgrades including $3.3 million for the replacement of Station 591 on Lockville Road in Olde Pickerington Village.
The department also intends to expend $1.2 million to overhaul Refugee Road Station 592 and $1.2 million for site acquisition for a future facility, to be called Station 594, in the growing southern corridor of the township.
Replacement of outdated vehicles and equipment is expected to cost an additional $3.2 million.
"By the end of May we will assemble a group to begin the specification process for a new rescue vehicle," Eisel said.
He said the department will look into how to get the immediate projects underway, specifically Station 591 and the new rescue vehicle.
"In order to begin these projects, we are investigating the option of bonding the facility and leasing the apparatus purchases as we will not see the revenue increase until after the first-half property tax revenues are received in 2015," said Eisel.
"At that point half of the projected increase in revenues should be received."
Eisel said the levy was needed to keep pace with the growth of the Pickerington/Violet Township service area.
Since 2002, when the department last ran a levy on the ballot, Violet Fire's 42-square mile service area grew from a population of 26,000 to a little less than 40,000.
He said run volumes by 2020 are projected to increase another 35 percent.
Levy passage also means the department will avoid personnel cuts, which Eisel said were a distinct possibility if the tax issue had failed.