Voters in the city of Powell and Liberty Township will see a levy request from the township's fire department on the November ballot.

Trustees on June 20 approved a resolution of necessity to put a five-year renewal of the township's 5.6-mill levy for EMS and fire services on the Nov. 7 ballot. While the Liberty Township Fire Department's current levy is not set to expire until the end of 2018, the township would not begin collecting on the proposed levy until 2019.

Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa said the levy, if approved, will raise just shy of $8 million per year for the department and cost homeowners about $166 annually per $100,000 in their properties' market value.

Township fire Chief Tom O'Brien, who trustees hired to lead the department in February, said it's his job to be "responsible and respectful" with taxpayer money. He said that philosophy guided the decision to seek a renewal levy instead of an increase.

"We felt confident the renewal would get us to where we needed (to be)," he said.

O'Brien said he does not want taxpayers to think the renewal-levy request means little will change at the department over its five-year term. He said department officials constantly seek ways to spend taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible to get the best return for residents.

"We're not going to ever maintain the status quo," he said. "This department is always going to try to improve."

O'Brien said while the levy is intended to be the main revenue source for his department, he does not want it to be the lone source. He said department officials are looking to secure more funding from grants and will consider "soft billing."

Delaware County EMS last year adopted soft billing -- the practice of billing a third party such as an insurance company or Medicare -- after emergency runs to recoup costs.

O'Brien said discussions of implementing the practice are preliminary in nature, and noted the change would need approval from township trustees. He said he wants residents to realize soft billing would not result in residents seeing additional bills or charges.

"If we do soft billing, it will not be an additional expense to our (residents)," he said.

City and township voters overwhelmingly supported the department's initial 5.6-mill levy request in 2013. Residents rejected a 6.6-mill levy request from the department in fall 2012.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick