BROOKVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – The fire department here is in the middle of two Montgomery County ballot issues for the primary on Tuesday, May 8th.
Voters will decide on a proposed 3.5 mill levy in Clay Township and a 1.5 mill levy in Perry Township.
Similar measures in both townships failed by small margins in fall 2017.
Brookville Fire Department Chief Ronald Fletcher explained Clay Township hasn’t renewed its levy for more than a decade and it’s been nearly five years since a levy passed in Perry Township. Fletcher said the new funding is critical to keep up with future services.
“They (residents) certainly have an expectation that we’re going to arrive, we’re going to be quick about it and we’re going to do a good job when we come,” Fletcher said. “So it’s a service that is used a great deal.”
The chief credited the levies’ failures in 2017 to misinformation. He said some voters falsely believed they were voting to increase the same revenue stream that paid for a new fire house in Brookville.
The updated facilities, which will combine two fire stations in the city, are being paid for by sales tax approved in 2015. The levies, on the other hand, would help pay for operational costs.
“Fuel, supplies, fire hose, foam, our fire gear, our uniforms: all of those items,” Fletcher explained. “Plus, we have a percentage of that money that is set aside and saved.”
Roughly 10,000 residents live in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Clay and Perry Townships. Many voters told 2 NEWS they plan to support the ballot issues on Tuesday.
“They (the firefighters) help us out so much and we (will continue to need) their help just as much,” said Brandon Thompson, a voter from Perry Township.
John Meeks, a voter from Clay Township, added, “I had a heart attack and they were there immediately. So I appreciate their service and I’m going to support them.”
Others told 2 NEWS they’re worried about any increased taxes.
“I’m just getting taxed enough,” said Michael Noble, a Clay Township voter. “I’m on a limited income and my taxes are going through the roof (already).”
In Clay Township, a taxpayer with a $100,000 valued property could expect to pay an additional $122.50 per year. The Montgomery County Auditor says it would generate an extra $658,319.
In Perry Township, a taxpayer with a $100,000 valued property would pay an extra $52.50. The auditor says it would bring in an additional $164,639.
Fletcher said the new revenue would be especially important for rural departments.
“We are not totally reliant on the passage of these levies,” the Brookville Fire Chief explained, saying the department also receives funding from the city’s general fund. “But these other departments that run with us on a regular basis and cover Clay (and Perry) Township — they do depend on the money and I know their situations are getting critical.”