Fire department, cemeteries seek support
Oct 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Margaretta fire levy
• WHAT: 2.95-mill, five-year renewal levy to fund fire protection and ambulance and emergency medical services, beginning in 2014.
• COST: Owner of $100,000 home would pay $67.62 a year.
Margaretta cemeteries levy
• WHAT: 0.5-mill, five-year additional levy to maintain and operate cemeteries, beginning this year.
• COST: Owner of a $100,000 home would pay $17.50 a year.
It’s a full ballot next month for voters in Castalia and Margaretta Township.
In addition to choosing three of the eight eligible school board candidates, voters must also decide on financing issues for fire and cemetery operations.
Fire commanders want residents to approve a five-year renewal levy for general operations. The levy today generates about $300,000 a year, representing about half of the fire department’s annual budget. A large chunk covers the wages of seven full-time and 12 part-time firefighters.
Margaretta fire Chief Bill Mohr said he hopes voters realize how efficient his department has been with taxpayer dollars.
Case in point: Area taxpayers recently saved $50,000 when officials repurposed a 2003 Ford F250 to become the department’s new grass fire truck.
The old grass fire truck was almost three decades old. “This change will allow firefighters to work quicker, safer and more efficiently when operating at a grass fire or brush fire,” Mohr said.
The savings also allowed Mohr to add an additional vehicle, a pickup truck, to his fleet. The Pegasus Trailer Co. donated labor and materials to outfit the truck.
The department’s commanders have also been aggressive in applying for grants to offset taxpayer dollars. In the recent past, the department has secured:
• $43,000 for an air compressor that refills air tanks firefighters use in smoke-filled environments.
• $25,000 to purchase rescue equipment, including ropes and airbags.
“People should vote for the levy to ensure that we have money to maintain our current level of service,” Mohr said. “This is a renewal, so there is no additional cost to the taxpayers.”
If the levy fails, Mohr’s not expected to implement drastic actions, such as laying off staff.
Area officials also want voters to OK new money to maintain three cemeteries: Castalia, Venice and Graves.
“It’s just to help generate our normal operating fees,” said Jim Neill, Margaretta Township’s cemetery sexton. “Sales are down right now. There are only two full-time people to work on it.”
Neill couldn’t answer several questions about financing, including what the department’s budget is or how much money this levy would generate.
Multiple calls placed to Margaretta Township trustee Joe Bias Jr., the point person for levy information, went unreturned.