The Prairie Township Fire Department is seeking voter approval of Issue 45, a 9.4-mill replacement levy, on Tuesday's ballot.

The Prairie Township Fire Department is seeking voter approval of Issue 45, a 9.4-mill replacement levy, on Tuesday's ballot.

"Issue 45 ensures continuity of service where your safety and well-being always come first," Fire Chief Steve Feustel said.

If the issue passes on Tuesday, homeowners can expect to pay an additional $113.37 annually for each $100,000 of home valuation, Feustel said. If it is approved, the fire department can start collecting on the levy at the start of next year.

One of the many current needs of the fire department is a new fire engine, Feustel said. The current engine is 11 years old and has reached the point where replacing it is going to cost less than maintaining it, he said.

"We receive no financial support from the township general fund, so the cost of this engine has to come out of the fire levy funds - which are virtually maxed out," Feustel said.

He said Issue 45 will replace two current levies. The new money created by the replacement would be the same as a 3.7-mill increase.

The township currently collects on four fire levies, and if voters approve the Issue 45 on Tuesday, it will replace two of them - one of 3.9 mills passed in 1993 and another of 5.5 mills passed in 1999.

The millage on the ballot mirrors the number of mills originally approved by voters, a total of 9.4, but those two levies are now being collected at a total effective rate of just over 5.6 mills. The amount of additional millage would be about 3.7 mills, Feustel said.

Ohio law does not allow voted millage to appreciate. Property tax issues approved by voters cannot be collected at a dollar amount higher than the value of a mill at the time of the vote. The dollars stay the same, the number of mills goes down.

Feustel said passage of the replacement levy will allow the department to again collect the number of mills approved in the 1993 and 1999 levies.

"By not waiting until we are in a deficit, we can ensure the department will be financially stable," he said. "Fire prevention programs and operating cost issues will move forward and be addressed in a fiscally responsible manner that fully incorporates long-term strategic planning."

Should the levy fail, the fire department will only have a carryover of $134,397 for the following year. Passage of the levy avoids deficit spending and ensures the ongoing excellence in service to the community, Feustel said.

"This levy is very critical for us," he said. " Passing it this time considerably extends the life of the levy versus passage next year, which then puts us in a critical position."

Feustel said he believes the replacement levy could last as long as 10 years.