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Residents approve fire levy
Prairie Township residents voted in favor of the fire department during the Nov. 2 election.
The 9.4-mill levy for the township fire department passed by a large margin. According to the Franklin County Board of Elections, 3,115 people (56 percent) voted for the levy and 2,259 people (42 percent) voted against it, with all 23 precincts reporting.
This new levy will be replacing two previous levies, the 3.9-mill and 5.5-mill will be combined into one levy of 9.4-mill.
Chad Story from the Prairie Township Professional Firefighter’s Union made an appearance at the Nov. 3 Trustee meeting to give a special thank you to the Prairie Township residents who voted for the levy.
“The Prairie Township Firefighter’s Union Local 2985, would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the residents of Prairie Township for your overwhelming support of the 2010 fire levy. Your continued support and trust during these difficult times means the world to us. We are honored to serve such a great community, now and in the years to come,” Story said.
The new fire levy will begin collecting Jan. 1.
According to the Franklin County Auditor’s website, it will (unofficially) cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $23.99 a month. This represents an increase of $9.45.
Trustee Stephen Kennedy said he thinks the levy passed because, “Our residents have a history of supporting our fire department. We have a well rounded department that is well respected and I think most residents feel the same way.”
Fire Chief Steve Feustel said the first thing they are going to purchase with the money is a new fire engine. Due to new EPA regulations and requirements, a new engine can cost more than $500,000.
The other thing the money will go toward is establishing a Fire Prevention Bureau to provide consistency to all of the businesses in town, as well as outreach programs.
These are the two main plans for the next four years, according to Feustel.
Feustel said he thinks there will be a “consistency across the board” because the levy passed.
The department is going to continue the outreach programs with the senior citizens and going to the schools.
Feustel is currently working on a program to teach all high school students CPR before they graduate.
If the levy would not have passed, Feustel said he would have taken measures to streamline their operation. The impact to the public would have been noticeable mainly on the second consecutive run. He would have re-evaluated their approach and have run another levy in the May election.
“I think our straight forwardness and honesty with what we planned to do with the money is what they wanted to hear. They want their fire people to be able to service them and they understood our needs. We promised them we were going to make it extend for as long as we can,” Feustel said about the levy passing.
The fire department presently operates on a budget of $4 million per year, 88 percent of which is personnel costs. This covers all expenses for two fire stations, two engines, one ladder, one tanker, one air wagon, three medic vehicles, six staff and utility vehicles, 29 full-time firefighters (all certified as paramedics), four full-time dispatchers, and about 36 part-time firefighters and dispatchers.
“If we were to have run the exact same millage in 2011 it would have lasted only 5 years. By passing it this year, the new levy should last well past 2018 and possibly into 2020,” Feustel said.
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