You Did It!
Buckeye Lake Village voters spoke loud and clear Tuesday when they refused to renew a five-mill fire levy for five years by a convincing 490-391 margin. The other six fire levies on the Licking County ballot were handily approved by 59+ percent margins.
Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker and council members’ tepid response to our now seven-part investigative series detailing serious deficiencies in providing emergency medical services forced voters to take action. The vote is largely symbolic since village officials have two more opportunities (May and next November) to ask voters to renew it before tax collections are affected.
A significant majority of voters obviously believed that their concerns about the department’s emergency medical services were being ignored. And they were right.
Some three weeks after our first report in August, Baker met with Fire Chief Pete Leindecker about the deficiencies we had documented. That lead to a Sept. 6 letter to Leindecker detailing 17 specific directives. The most significant one told Leindecker to have the Licking County 9-1-1 Center dispatch mutual aid after three minutes rather than the current six - eight minutes. That change would cut response times, possibly saving lives. We passed the 60-day mark this week with no change in the dispatch policy nor repercussions for Leindecker’s inaction.
Early in September, Baker decided to pass the buck to a fire advisory committee. That committee has now met three times and reportedly will present a report at Monday night’s village council meeting.
Next week will mark 90 days since our first report. It appears that Baker and council members had been playing “rope-a-dope” with residents up to the election, hoping that you would renew the tax levy without any substantial changes being made in the department. By rejecting the levy Tuesday, you retained critical leverage to force improvements.
Your negative votes are a critical step toward getting the service you deserve and that your neighbors already have! Residents need to remain vigilant as this is truly a matter of life and death.