An opposition group has formed in Genoa Township to oppose a fire levy and a police levy township residents will decide in the May 5 election.

An opposition group has formed in Genoa Township to oppose a fire levy and a police levy township residents will decide in the May 5 election.

While the group may be made up of only about 25 residents, it has earned the backing of a national organization.

Americans for Prosperity, a national anti-tax advocacy group based in Virginia and founded by Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch in 2004, issued a statement of support for the group Genoa Township Taxpayers for Police and Fire Accountability.

"What drove our investment in this issue was the legitimate concerns of hardworking residents in the township," Americans for Prosperity Deputy State Director Baylor Myers said.

Americans for Prosperity recently has been involved with other central Ohio issues, including opposing the proposed Columbus Zoo and Aquarium levy in 2014 and a 2013 income-tax issue in Gahanna. On Tuesday, April 21, the PAC also announced its opposition to proposed school levy on the May ballot, in the South Range Local Schools, near Youngstown.

Myers declined to specify whether Americans for Prosperity has focused its efforts on moving into other local township or school district issues, but said their involvement came after Genoa residents reached out.

"When we're approached by hardworking citizens of any municipality with a real concern, we take that very seriously and will conduct an internal review and decide whether or not the issue has merit and if we can provide assistance to the citizens on the ground who are often at a disadvantage in terms of resources," he said.

Myers would not say how much money the group plans to invest in opposing the Genoa levies, but said it has purchased a billboard advertisement at state Route 161 and Sunbury Road.

The group is against the proposed renewal-plus-increase for both levies that fully fund the township's police and fire departments. The township is asking for 0.8-mill increases in the levies that would add $28 in property taxes per $100,000 of property value annually, according to township officials.

The police levy would increase to 4.6 mills -- with a proposed renewal of the existing 3.8-mill levy and a 0.8-mill increase -- to raise a projected $4.2 million per year. The fire department is asking for the same size increase: a renewal of its 4.7-mill levy with an increase of 0.8 mills, for a total 5.5-mill levy.

Doug Krinsky, one of local the group's leaders, called the levy proposals "ridiculous."

"We're just trying to educate people and get the word out," he said. "We're trying to get people to know what's going on."

Group members cited overlapping service as a main concern of the funding, claiming other nearby jurisdictions could do the work without the township departments.

But township trustees and the chiefs of fire and police disagreed with that approach when the issues were raised at the April 16 trustees meeting, citing state regulations on parties responding to incidents and the policy of sending backup whenever available.

"You don't send the minimum amount of service to see what you're getting into," Trustee Leo Wilhelm said. "You send what's most likely the worst-case scenario. If two show up, you send one back. It's the same with the police department. ... If I'm a resident, I want that backup."

Krinsky and other group members questioned the township's fiscal policies. But Sara Walsh, who was part of a committee of a dozen residents who reviewed the city's finances to gauge the need of the increase, said her group could find nothing amiss.

"We grilled them line item by line item," she said at the April 16 meeting. "We drilled down deep with our questions and every one was answered completely. They were completely transparent."

Despite the answers, Krinsky said Genoa Township Taxpayers for Police and Fire Accountability will actively campaign against passage of the levies. He and stood by his charges of fiscal irresponsibility.

"We will help them if they want us to manage their budget," he said.