2010-07-10 / News

Trustees seek to replace fire/EMS levy this fall

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Union Township residents can expect to see a 1.8 mill replacement fire and EMS levy on the November ballot, Union Township Trustees decided Monday night.

A replacement levy will increase taxes, as it returns the current collected or effective millage to the original millage approved by voters. Property tax levies raise set amounts of revenues. As property values increase and/or more properties are built, the tax rate needed to raise the set amount of revenue declines.

This spring the 1.8 mill levy was being collected at 1.717947 mills on residential and agricultural property. If voters agree to replace it, the collected rate would increase .08 mills to the original 1.8 mill rate. That would cost property owners living in their own home an additional $2.45 per year per $100,000 of valuation.

Union Township Trustee President John Slater said he wouldn’t expect the levy to raise taxes much, although he was yet to have any specific numbers. He said the township has a 1.5 mills fire and EMS levy in addition to the 1.8 mills. Two years ago the 1.5 mill levy was approved as a replacement and revenue increased $26,000 per year across the entire unincorporated portion of the township. Buckeye Lake and Hebron property owners don’t pay Union Township levies. Slater said the 1.8 mills levy is approaching the end of its five-year cycle and this will the first attempt to renew it. If voters approve, the reset rate won’t be collected until 2012.

Licking County Treasurer Michael Smith also doubts approval of a replacement levy will significantly increase Union Township taxes. He said the auditor’s property value assessment hasn’t been increased since 2005. In addition, very few property owners have been able to sell for more than the tax assessment value while many have sold below that value.

In other township news:

• All township residents who have registered with Big-O Refuse and requested the optional 90-gallon toter should have received it by Tuesday, according to township zoning inspector Paula Greene.

Big O started a three-year contract as the township’s exclusive residential trash hauler on July 1. The weekly pickup day is Thursday.

“Logistically, we created a little bit of havoc,” said Slater. He said none of the companies that bid on the Union Township contract bought enough trash containers for all township residents since it was uncertain who would win the bid; the losing bidders didn’t want to be stuck with hundreds of extra containers and no Union Township contract. Slater said Big-O placed a huge order for containers when it won the bid.

Slater said of the 875 people who registered for service so far, less than 50 asked for optional recycling. Not to say that more people aren’t recycling on their own, he said, but the lack of recycling requests surprised him. Slater said residents contacted him to say they hadn’t received an information flyer mailed township wide and weren’t aware of the change, but, “all in all it’s working well,” he said. “I can’t believe how accommodating Big- O has been.”

• Union Township Zoning Inspector and Police Chief Paula Greene said the railroad crossing on Union Station Road near Canyon Road will be repaired by the end of the year. Slater said the CSX railroad line is responsible for the repairs. He couldn’t predict the extent of repairs to the railroad crossing, other than CSX promised to make them this year.

Slater said he’s also received complaints about the condition of the notoriously high and steep Thornwood Drive railroad crossing. He said CSX is also responsible that crossing and CSX reps have spoken with the trustees, but no repairs are scheduled yet.

• The trustees looked at a bridge on Canyon Road just north of the Seminary Road intersection. Some residents complained it’s crumbling. Slater said the bridge is “unsightly,” but structurally safe. Licking County is responsible for the bridge, which county engineers inspected and assured it’s safe for traffic. “Yes, it’s in pretty sorry shape,” said Slater, “but structurally, it’s okay.”

Licking County Engineer Tim Lollo said he’s familiar with the bridge, but as Wednesday no one has contacted him about addressing it.

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