2013-08-10 / News

Trustees might pull new fire levy off Nov. 5 ballot

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP – Trustees aren’t ready to pull their 1.5 mil additional fire levy from the November ballot-at least not yet.

Monday night, Trustee President Rick Black said they have until Aug. 30 to pull the levy if it looks as though the boundary conformative issue won’t be resolved within the next few weeks. “At this point, I don’t want to pull it,” he said.

“This conforming of boundaries issue hit us square in the face,” said trustee John Slater.

The Licking County Budget Commission wants the boundaries between townships and incorporated areas conformed. That means that Buckeye Lake and Hebron either secede from the township, giving up their voting privileges for township officials and their ability to serve in those offices OR they begin voting on and paying township tax levies if enacted. Decisions must be made by August 30.

If voters approve Union Township’s proposed additional 1.5 mill fire levy, it would raise about $237,000 a year if it only applied to the unincorporated areas. However, it could raise nearly $390,000 a year if it was also collected in the Villages of Buckeye Lake and Hebron.

Black fears that Buckeye Lake and Hebron voters would reject the new levy. Property owners there are already paying more (5 mills in Buckeye Lake and 6 mills in Hebron) compared to the 3.8 mills in Union Township. He said Buckeye Lake “is making a genuine, sincere effort” to conform its boundaries, especially since the village has its own 5-mills renewal fire levy on the November ballot and Buckeye Lake officials worry if both levies are on the ballot in Buckeye Lake Village, neither would pass.

“We are just trying our best to complete the legislation to conform our boundaries before the August 30th deadline,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker. “If we do not meet the deadline, then we will discuss our options for the fire levy with council and the officers of the fire department.”

However, Black said to his knowledge Hebron has no intention of conforming its boundaries. He said if Hebron doesn’t conform, it’ll pay township renewal or additional levies in the future. “If they vote (the township 1.5 mills fire levy) down, there’s a good chance it could go down,” said Black.

Slater said trustees met with Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason and Administrator Ralph Wise to try to answer some questions. Slater said the township is not willing to create a fire district with Hebron, “paper” or otherwise, without more research. He said the “paper” district-an agreement to combine resources--doesn’t solve the problem of needing more revenue. “I don’t know,” said Slater. “There’s not a very clear solution to anything.”

In other township news:

• Black said the county informed him the Refugee Road culvert replacement project should be complete by the end of August. Slater said he wished it could be completed sooner, but Black said the schedule is up to the county, which is completing the work.

Previously, Black said a Century Link phone line would have to be moved when the county repairs the culvert. He said he doubted the move would interrupt phone service, at least for any significant period of time. Black predicted the phone line would be moved before work begins. Fortunately for the township, Black said the county is covering the total cost of the culvert work. Previously, trustees believed Union Township would need to contribute $4,464 to the project, but that changed.

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