2012-06-16 / News

Council to decide on fire levy issue

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Village Council’s Finance Committee will discuss a fire levy, said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker. “It should be going to finance and, or the safety committee Monday,” said Baker Wednesday. “With council’s blessing, it should just be for a renewal at the next general (November) election.”

Licking County Deputy Auditor Cindy Haas said the village’s five mill, five-year fire levy expires at the end of this year. It will be collected through 2013.

Currently, Buckeye Lake Village property owners pay $151.74 annually per $100,000 of valuation. “If they renew it, it will stay at that,” said Haas. A replacement levy would increase that amount by $1.40 per $100,000 of valuation. If voters opt for a replacement levy which returns the tax rate to the original five mills, the owner of a $50,000 property would pay $76.57 per year and the owner of a $200,000 property would pay $306.28 per year.

In other council news:

• Baker said Tuesday that Water Tech Toby Miller passed a May 10 test for a Class 1 operator’s license. Ohio EPA requires the license to operate a water system. Currently, the system is operating under the license/ supervision of Millersport Water Superintendent John Wood. He is paid $300 per month or $3,600 per year by Buckeye Lake.

Baker is still expected to appoint Miller, who is currently part-time, to a newly created fulltime water supervisor position. “He’s been with the water system since day one,” said Baker. “Who knows it better?”

Some residents and council members have objected to the new position’s $45,000 starting salary, which would make Miller the village’s highest paid employee. Council member and finance committee chair Kaye Hartman said the position’s salary would be discussed during a June 18 finance committee meeting. “Hopefully, we will have some legislation to come before us at the next (village council) meeting,” she said.

• Council member Gerry Neff wondered if the village could do anything about a former Mc- Donald’s restaurant building on Mill Dam Road that’s falling into disrepair. “It’s awful,” she said, adding that tall weeds are taking over the building’s lot. Baker said money from the state’s $75 million Moving Ohio Forward Grant program, of which Licking County received $1,029,355, can only be used to demolish uninhabitable residences, not commercial structures. Baker expects the village will receive some of that grant money for its goal of demolishing nearly 20 houses, but he’s unsure yet of how much.

Realtor Ned Coffman, who’s trying to sell the former McDonald’s building, said its price was recently reduced to $160,000. He said the building needs a new roof and there is some water in its basement, but he said it doesn’t make much sense to pump it all out until the building is under contract and the roof is slated for repair. “It’s a good, sound structure,” said Coffman. He said he would contact the building’s owners, who live in Athens, and tell them that local residents are concerned with the way the building’s being maintained. Coffman said he’s had some interest from buyers, but nothing’s in contract.

Newark Department of Community Development grant writer Barbara Gilkes, who is administrating the Move Ohio Forward Grant program locally, said she won’t know how much money Licking County communities will receive until after June 30. She said a number local entities are vying for a share of the grant including Pataskala, Heath, Johnstown, and Union and Etna townships, among others. Previously, Gilkes said she expected Buckeye Lake Village to receive some of the grant money, once it’s distributed.

• Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Dave Ruton assured council members that the Licking County 911 Center, where Ruton works, is not laying off personnel, despite rumors the center is having problems. “We are surviving and thriving,” he said. In fact, he said the 911 center is poised to merge with the Licking County Sheriff’s Department dispatch center in a newly remodeled building.

According to a Licking County press release, the project will combine two major emergency services dispatching operations in a facility acquired last year from the state. The new center will provide full connectivity to the statewide MARCS 800 Megahertz radio network, that allows agencies to talk with each other state-wide.

In the release, Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said building renovation will begin this year with the new equipment installed in early 2013. The joint communications center should be operational in the second quarter of 2013. Local governments will likely have to pay for dispatching services.

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