Westerville-area residents will see a city fire levy as well as Genoa Township fire and police levies on the May 4 ballot.

Westerville-area residents will see a city fire levy as well as Genoa Township fire and police levies on the May 4 ballot.

Westerville City Council voted at its Feb. 16 meeting to place a permanent 2.6-mill fire levy before voters on May 4. The levy, if approved, would cost $79.63 per every $100,000 in property valuation each year and would generate $2.8-million annually for the Westerville Division of Fire.

The increase would not be used for additional personnel or equipment, Fire Chief Bernie Ingles said. Levy approval would spare the fire department from a $24,000 budget deficit at the end of 2011 and an expected $3.3-million budget deficit at the end of 2012, he said.

The levy would fund the fire department at its current levels, allowing it to stay on schedule with planned equipment replacement and refurbishment, through 2016, Ingles said.

Westerville voters last passed a fire levy in 2002. The 3.4-mill levy was meant to fund the division of fire for six years, but Ingles said that money will last longer and will keep the department out of a budget hole through the end of this year.

The 3.4-mill levy currently is being collected at 2.6 mills.

Genoa Township residents will vote May 4 on police and fire levies.

The 3.6-mill, five-year police levy is expected to generate $3.6-million a year and the 4.7-mill, five-year fire levy, if approved, would generate $4.4-million annually.

Genoa Township Police Chief Robert Taylor said revenue from the levy would be used to "maintain" the standards of the police department. No additional staffing will occur.

"We believe (staffing is) at a very reasonable level to address the needs of our community and because of the economy," he said. "We're trying to stay conservative on this. We don't plan on adding additional personnel during the life of this levy."

In a further effort to save money, police officials will extend the life of cruisers from 100,000 miles to 150,000 miles and use motorcycles and bicycles more often in order to reduce mileage on the cruisers, Taylor said.

"It will give us more one-on-one contact with residents, being on bikes," he said.

Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt said the Genoa Township department has about six firefighters on duty daily and uses help from surrounding townships for help when needed.

Deputy Chief Lynn Hancock said if passed, the fire levy will allow the Genoa Township department to maintain its current services and hire three additional firefighters per shift, for a total of nine new hires.

The additional staffing would allow the department to better meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) safety standards. According to Honeycutt, the standards say a department should have about 14 firefighters on duty every day.

The NFPA is a nonprofit organization of about 80,000 members.

NFPA spokesperson Lorraine Carli said they include firefighters, builders, electricians and others interested in fire safety.

The standards are not based on law, but Carli said they are created by NFPA members to facilitate better fire safety.

The NFPA also provides education and research in related fields, she added.