Reynoldsburg News

Truro Township

Chief: Levy would maintain emergency services

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The Truro Township Division of Fire hopes residents of Reynoldsburg and Truro Township will consider voting yes on Issue 46, a 3.9-mill permanent operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Fire Chief Steve Hein said the levy is needed to staff a full-time paramedic ambulance on the west side of Reynoldsburg and to maintain emergency services for the next six to eight years.

"The funding will ensure adequate staffing at our second firehouse because right now, we can't always completely staff both firehouses," he said. "The levy would make sure we have staffing for all of our emergency vehicles."

If approved by voters, the 3.9-mill operating levy would cost an additional $119 per year in taxes per $100,000 in property value. It would generate $1.8 million per year for the department, according to Administrative Battalion Chief Jeff Sharps.

Sharps has posted information about the levy request at trurotwp.org/levy-2012.html.

He said the last time the department asked for additional millage was in 2002.

"Since that time, Truro Township has built an additional fire station and increased the number of firefighters on duty," he wrote on the website. "The number of incidents Truro Township Fire Department responded to in 2002 equaled 3,781, while in 2011, Truro handled 6,149 runs, an increase of 62 percent."

Hein said the levy is about staffing fire engines and paramedic ambulances as cost-effectively as possible.

He said the department will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 14 at Fire Station 162, 6305 E. Livingston Ave.

"People will be able to tour the fire house. We will have a fire safety house available," he said. "We will also land a medical helicopter on the grounds and possibly demonstrate an emergency auto extraction."

The Truro Township Division of Fire serves the city of Reynoldsburg, the village of Brice and Truro Township, an area 9.1 of square miles in east central Franklin County, with an approximate population of 38,000 residents.

Sharps said the department has 45 full-time firefighters and paramedics.

If this levy fails, Hein said emergency response times could increase and he would have to let some employees go.

"I would end up laying off at least three people and there would be further reductions in service," he said. "The people of Truro Township have always been supportive of the fire department in the past, so we are hopeful that they will approve the levy request."

Sharps said the levy is "not the result of poor management or high firefighter wages."

"Like many local governments, decreases in state funding and property devaluations have adversely impacted the fire department's budget," he wrote on the township website.

He said the elimination of tangible personal property taxes and cuts in Local Government Fund allocations from the state resulted in the loss of more than $1 million in revenue for the fire department.

Funds from the levy could maintain financial stability for six to 10 years, Sharps said.

He said the department has reduced operating costs over the years by eliminating some firefighter/paramedic positions, deferring the purchases of new apparatus and equipment, instituting a pay freeze, increasing employee health care contributions and reducing other employee benefits.

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