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Trustees to seek additional fire levy

UNION TOWNSHIP – Union Township Trustees unanimously agreed Monday night to ask voters to approve an additional 1.5 mill fire levy on the November ballot.

“A levy needs to be enough, but not too much,” said Trustee John Slater. “And, it needs to pass. I would say we make an attempt at 1.5 mills.”

Trustees Rick Black and Jesse Ours agreed.

Black estimated that 1.5 mills would generate an additional $237,000 per year, bringing the township’s total fire levy revenue to roughly $740,000. The county auditor will calculate the exact numbers. Black wanted trustees to set the millage Monday night so they could meet the Aug. 7 filing deadline for the November ballot. “We need to start the process moving on this,” said Black.

Previously, Black said trustees have a lot to consider, because voters in the northern area of the township, served by the Granville Township Fire Department, want their fire levy taxes to go to Granville. Currently about a third of it goes to Hebron, whose fire department serves the portion of the township south of the railroad tracks.

Black said the arrangement predates him as a trustee. He said roughly a third of the township’s voters live in the area Granville serves, and voter turnout is very high in that area.

Black said currently Union Township has a 1.8 mill levy that collects $279,282, and a 1.5 mill levy that collects $227,847. He said an additional mill would generate $158,451; 1.5 mills would generate $237,677; five mills would generate $792,257; and eight mills would generate $1,267,611.

Black said Union Township’s total valuation is $156,702,020. Of that total, $44,284,120 is in the Granville service area, and $112,417,900 is in Hebron’s service area.

Trustees offered just $420,000 to the Village of Hebron for fire and EMS services in 2013, after paying roughly $625,000 in 2012. The township’s typical 60 percent share of operating expenses was estimated at $645,000 in 2013.

“I am pleased to hear of the tax levy issue in Union Township,” said Granville Township Fire Department Chief Jeff Hussey. “We have always encouraged our contract townships to keep their millage similar to our own millage as a matter of fairness to all of our service recipients.”

Hussey said the 1.5 mills levy would bring Union Township rates in line with Granville Township (4.3 effective, 4.8 voted). It would also make the rates similar to McKean Township, Granville’s other contract township.

“In regards to distribution of funds, we have advocated for funds generated in a particular service are to be distributed to the service provider. In other words, it would be ideal if fire tax revenues generated in the Union Township – Granville service area be distributed to Granville Township as the emergency services provider,” said Hussey. “We would hope that the Union Township Trustees would consider moving to this funding model in the future. We have used this funding distribution model in McKean Township with much success.”

Hussey said the levy could help secure a good level of services from both Hebron and Granville in Union Township. “I think it will be particularly helpful for Hebron to receive additional funds, as they are struggling to balance their budget,” he said. “In our situation, some additional funds will continue to help us improve services to all of our service area through a variety of initiatives.” He said some examples could include continuation of increased peak time staffing and expediting some capital campaign projects.

In other business:

• Trustees awarded the annual township road resurfacing contract to Small’s Asphalt Paving of Gambier, which consistently bid less per project than competitor The Shelly Company. Resurfacing projects are:

• Canyon Road South (south of Beaver Run Road to the Hebron corporation limit) will receive a hot mix coating, $36,453 and an additional chip seal coating over the hot mix, $9,915.50.

• Canyon Road North (north of Beaver Run Road to Seminary Road) will receive a chip seal coating, $19,898.10.

• Five roads will receive chip seal coatings, including Lees Drive, $2,593.40; Milliken Drive, $10,912.30; Ridgley Tract, $1,259.80; Mallard Point, $2,812.70; and Water’s Edge, $2,593.40.

• Total project cos t is $96,271.30. Black estimated all road repairs would be complete by the end of August.

• Trustees agreed to move ahead with repairs to an ailing culvert on Refugee Road. “It’s ugly,” said Black. “The whole culvert has buckled down. There’s nothing under the outlet; it’s all washed out.”

Black said the township will purchase the culvert, but Licking County Engineer’s Office will install it. The township’s share of the cost will be roughly $4,464. He said the culvert is safe to cross, but it will only worsen and now is the time to repair it. Black believes Refugee Road will be closed for a day to repair the culvert, but he can’t estimate when that day will be, because the labor will be on the county’s work schedule.

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