Jerome Township trustees have voted to place a 5.5-mill levy on the November ballot.

CORRECTION: The print and earlier online version of this story incorrectly said Jerome Township trustees would vote on a levy amount July 25.

Jerome Township trustees have voted to place a 5.5-mill levy on the November ballot.

The trustees made that decision earlier than they initially announced.

At their July 16 meeting, trustees voted 3-0 to approve a resolution of necessity for the levy, said fiscal officer Robert Caldwell.

They initially had discussed the merits of a 5.5- and a 5.3-mill levy and had said during the meeting that they had scheduled a vote for 7 a.m. July 25. Trustees then went into a closed-door session at 8:10 p.m. to consider the discipline of a public employee.

When they returned from the closed-door session at 9:20 p.m., Caldwell said, they voted to “continue the meeting” to 8 a.m. July 19.

On July 17, trustees received certification from the county auditor's office, Caldwell said. 

On July 19, trustees voted 3-0 on a resolution to proceed with the 5.5-mill levy and request it be place on the Nov. 5 general-election ballot, Caldwell said.

Trustee Ron Rhodes said the trustees decided to vote July 19 instead of July 25 because of the timetable to file paperwork with the Union County Board of Elections.

That paperwork is due to the board of elections Aug. 7, and township officials are in the process of filing it, Caldwell said.

Rhodes said trustees decided to go with the 5.5-mill levy because it was “the skinniest we could do.”

If voters approve the levy, a property owner would pay an additional $192.50 per $100,000 of home valuation, Caldwell said.

The 5.5-mill levy would generate $1,915,478 of tax revenue annually, Caldwell said. That figure is about $70,000 more in revenue per year than the 5.3-mill levy would have raised, said Douglas Stewart, Jerome Township fire chief.

That additional money will go toward personnel, Stewart said.

The proposed levy would raise funds to increase staffing at the current station and at a second station, he said.

The current station has 17 full-time positions and seven part-time positions, Stewart said, and is responsible for 55 square miles of coverage.

Part of the establishment of Nationwide Realty’s Jerome Village development included an agreement to donate land within the residential development for a fire station and $5.5 million to build and equip it, Stewart said.

The station is slated to be near the new Abraham Depp Elementary School, which is under construction at the northwest corner of Hyland-Croy Road and Ravenhill Parkway.

Stewart said the 6.6-mill levy he initially had proposed to trustees would have meant 12 people on duty daily between the two stations. They likely will end up staffing eight to 10 people daily between those stations, he said.

An option in the future could be to look at a 2.9-mill levy approved in 2011, Stewart said. That levy is being assessed at an effective rate of 2.3 mills and generates about $834,000 annually, he said.

That levy comes up for renewal in 2021, and the township then could look at renewing it at the existing level or replacing it, he said.

As of now, the fire department will continue to pursue grant funding to help generate revenue, Stewart said.

“Anything we can do,” he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah

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Procedural measures delay Jerome trustees' vote on fire-levy request to July 25

The Jerome Township board of trustees took an initial step toward placing a fire levy on the Nov. 5 general-election ballot.

The trustees voted 3-0 at their July 16 meeting to approve a resolution of necessity.

That vote is per Ohio Revised Code, said Robert Caldwell, the township’s fiscal officer. The code requires that government bodies pass a resolution of necessity at the same time a request of certification of a millage is made with a county auditor.

Even though the township already received informal millage figures from the Union County Auditor, the trustees had to request an official certification along with the resolution of necessity per state law, Caldwell said.

The trustees are slated to vote at 7 a.m. July 25 on either a 5.3-mill or 5.5-mill levy.

A 5.5-mill levy would generate $1,915,478 of tax revenue annually, Caldwell said. A 5.3-mill levy would generate $1,845,824 annually.

If voters were to approve a 5.5-mill levy in November, a property owner would pay $192.50 per $100,000 of home valuation, Caldwell said. Should the 5.3-mill levy pass, a homeowner would pay $185.50 per $100,000 of home valuation, he said.

The proposed fire levy would raise funds to increase staffing at the current station and a second station, said Douglas Stewart, Jerome Township fire chief. To adequately staff the station and a new one would require an additional 12 to 15 full- and part-time personnel, he said.

The current station has 17 full-time positions and seven part-time positions, Stewart said, and is responsible for 55 square miles of coverage.

Part of the establishment of Nationwide Realty’s Jerome Village development included an agreement to donate land within the residential development for a fire station and $5.5 million to build and equip it, Stewart said.

The station is slated to be near the new Abraham Depp Elementary School, which is under construction at the northwest corner of Hyland-Croy Road and Ravenhill Parkway.

The last fire levy was approved in 2011 at 2.9 mills, Stewart said, and renewed in 2016. That levy is now collecting at 2.33 mills and generates $834,000 annually, he said. It expires and has to be renewed or replaced every five years. It’s up for renewal or replacement in 2021.

The fire department also has two continuing (permanent) levies from 1991 and 1992, Stewart said.

A 1991 levy originally set at 2.9 mills is collecting at 0.74 mill now and generates approximately $299,816 annually, he said. The 1992 levy originally was set at 10 mills and collects at 3.2 mills now, generating $1,303,549 annually.

The fire district also collects money annually from a combination of state funding, emergency medical service billing and contracts for fire and emergency medical services from neighboring townships, Stewart said.

The total amount fluctuates every year, but this year the budgeted amount from those funding sources is about $519,000.

Washington Township provides primary fire and emergency-medical services to the city of Dublin and Jerome Township provides mutual aid, Stewart said.

During their July 16 meeting, the trustees discussed the merits of choosing either of the levies.

Trustee Ron Rhodes said although he knows it’s not the optimum choice, he was “stuck” on the 5.3-mill levy because he worried voters would not approve a higher-millage levy.

Trustee Joe Craft said a 5.3-mill levy would still require a tremendous amount of work to educate the public. He also said the trustees should have begun working on a fire levy two years ago.

“We’ve had adequate time to address it,” he said.

For his part, trustee CJ Lovejoy said he didn’t see a major difference between a 5.3- and a 5.5-mill levy. He said trustees should push for a 5.5-mill levy while also saying he was comfortable with whatever the other two trustees thought was best.

“I hate asking people to pay more taxes, because it’s not fun,” Lovejoy said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah