Thankful and amazed sum up Prairie Township fire Chief Chris Snyder's response to voter approval May 8 of a 3.61-mill permanent levy to support fire and EMS services.
For the first time in its history, the fire department will be able to start saving for bills it knows are coming, he said.
The levy will cost homeowners $126.35 per every $100,000 in home value.
Support for the measure was evident all evening May 8 as the votes were tallied. It never trailed and finally was approved by a count of 1,330 to 737, or 64 percent to 36 percent, according to final, unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
It is expected to generate an additional $1.1 million annually for the department.
The department last asked voters for funding eight years ago.
In addition to maintaining current services, funding from the levy will be used to implement a capital-improvement plan that will cover major purchases, Snyder said.
The department currently tracks items that have "measurable life spans," such as all vehicles, air packs for firefighters, computers, fire hoses and radios, he said.
The levy, which will be collected beginning in 2019, will allow department officials to project anticipated replacement dates for large-ticket items and set aside a portion of replacement costs on an annual basis "so there are no surprises," Snyder said.
"Many times, these items compete with day-to-day operational costs when they are not well-planned," he said. "We can now map these things out."
For example, he said, the department's ladder truck is 18 years old and nearing the end of its lifespan. It's expected to cost close to $1 million to replace, Snyder said.
He said he expects the levy to keep the fire department funded for the next several years and said the department aims to be "good stewards of the public's funds."
"I'd like to thank all the voters who went out and supported it," Snyder said. "I've been very humbled by the responses and phone calls and emails. It's been absolutely amazing."
The department has an annual budget of about $5 million and operates two fire stations.
Without the additional money from the levy, Prairie Township officials said, the fire epartment would be in the red in about two years.
Last year, the township turned over its dispatching services to Grove City, eliminating four full-time employees and saving about $140,000 annually.
Fire crews responded to 6,112 calls for service last year, with nearly two-thirds (3,886) being emergency medical incidents, according to its 2017 annual report.