Fire levy's passage was needed boost for Jackson Township

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

Fire departments encourage residents and businesses to take preventive action to help reduce the chance they will need firefighters' service.

The fire levy voters in Jackson Township, Grove City and Urbancrest approved Nov. 3 will provide operating funds that will help prevent any disruption to that service, township trustee Jim Rauck said.

Jackson Township Fire Department firefighters Joe Grace and Mitch Shroyer (not pictured) check the hydraulic tools on some of the department’s vehicles. Voters on Nov. 3 approved Issue 19, a 4-mill, five-year operating levy for the department.

"This levy is really positive for our community," he said. "It's not really funding any new initiative. It's providing operating revenue we need to make sure we're able to maintain the same level of staffing and service to keep up with the needs of our growing community."

With all precincts reporting, voters approved the issue 14,559 votes to 9,971 votes, or 59.35% to 40.65%, according to unofficial results Nov. 3 from the Franklin County Board of Elections.

The five-year, 4-mill levy will generate $4.96 million annually and provide funding for general operations, including the purchase and maintenance of fire and EMS equipment and tools and personnel costs.

The projected revenue carryover balance for the fire department is declining, and without the levy, the township would be in deficit spending for the fire department by the end of 2021 or early 2022, Rauck said.

More:Jackson Township seeking voter approval of fire levy

"This levy puts us on pace to where we need to be financially for the next five years," he said. "It's going to allow us to make sure we build up our reserve balance."

Putting the levy on the ballot this year and having residents choose whether to support the measure allows the township to address the potential financial issue proactively rather than waiting until it becomes a reality, Rauck said.

Along with the operating expenses, the levy also will help cover the cost of about $750,000 in deferred building maintenance at the department's four fire stations and the costs of the township's participation in vehicle-leasing programs.

Property owners will pay an additional $140 annually per $100,000 of home valuation.

The levy will begin to be collected Jan. 1, 2021, and will expire Dec. 31, 2025.

It will provide about a 25% increase in revenue for the fire department. 

The department's annual budget is approximately $18 million.

"The community's support of this levy is really a vote to support our firefighters, who go above and beyond every day to serve the community," Rauck said. "Township service is really a grassroots form of government.

"We appreciate how each and every time our citizens give us their support when there is a need for them to step up. This levy was no different."

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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