YOU DECIDE NOVEMBER 8TH 2022
Welcome to the Tax Levy Information Website. We hope you find answers you may have about the levy on the website to make informed decision on Nov 8th. Since the passage of the last tax levy renewals, we have focused on improvements to the firehouses, updating our fleet of emergency vehicles, and making our pay more competitive to our surrounding Fire & EMS Departments.
We recently painted both stations, to keep cost down we utilized both on duty and off duty personnel to complete the work, instead of hiring out the painting. We are getting ready to start an addition to station on SR 222, we have received 2 rounds of Community Block Development Grants (CBDG) and received funds through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to complete this project to give us additional bay space for our Fire Trucks, additional space to keep 2 Ambulances at this station and space to get our Support Vehicle that currently sets outside year around, inside. The addition will also give a space for an office for our Township Deputy to work from when needed.
The updating of our Ambulances was a major priority at the prior tax renewal, at that time we were operating 4 ambulances, all with over 150,000 miles on them and straining the budget in maintenance just to keep them running. At that time, we only had enough equipment to stock 2 of the ambulances. With the passage of the last levy, we immediately sent out the 1st ambulance for remount of the patient compartment onto a new chassis. We chose not to buy an all-brand new ambulance and do a remount; this was to keep the cost down as an all-new build would cost around $35,000 to build over the remount. We did a 5-year lease from funds of the tax levy money to pay for this Ambulance. The 2nd ambulance remount we did was through funding from the Covid Relief Fund Act. The 3rd ambulance remount we did was through the ARPA funding. This is how we was able to update the ambulance fleet in a short amount of time. We also received funding through an BWC Grant, Ohio EMS Grants and Covid Relief Act to update all the cots in the ambulances and to give us the equipment to stock a 3rd Ambulance and respond with when staffing is available.
The last concern we worked on with the prior tax levy renewal was pay of our staff. We have always been a department that has been on the low end of competitive wages compared to departments in the county and the region. What worked for us in the past was the fire and EMS industry had more workers available then spots to fill in the fire and EMS departments. That has now completely changed, with all the departments in the area struggling to find personnel. Multiple news sources in the area have documented the struggles and challenges departments are currently having as the industry tries to find new ways to entice people to become certified Firefighter / EMT’s. We need to continue working on wages to make them more competitive with surrounding departments to keep us from losing great personnel to these departments. We try our best to staff 6 personnel around the clock in the 2 stations, that gives us the ability to get 3 units out for a call. Currently most days we only have 4 on duty to get 2 units out for calls, while doesn’t seem much losing one unit to respond, if you look at our run volume increase near 300 more runs in 4 years, we are having an increase of no personnel available to respond because they are already out on a call. We are a combination department, employing paid and volunteer members, while we are always accepting applications for volunteers, those applications are far and few between. The state has seen such a decrease in volunteering and now has a Task Force Roundtable to address this concern. Several meetings have taken place and I have either attended in person or logged in the meeting on Zoom depending on location of the meeting, these meeting have been productive on ideas to help find volunteers, but this will not be a quick fix to the problem.
We will always strive to give our residents the best care we can, we have made great improvements with Ambulance, Fire Trucks, equipment, and the buildings, but we still have equipment that has aged out and needs replaced. Our SCBA air compressor is over 35 years old and breaks often, currently we have applied for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to replace this piece of equipment. Our Extrication equipment used on car wrecks is aging out and costing us to keep maintained and we plan to use the next AFG grant cycle to hopefully replace this equipment in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to look through the website and my hope is it will answer questions you may have with the tax levy. If you would have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Chief Stephen Downey