Andy got any info ?
Rittman Fire Department Wants to Trade Levy in Ohio
Updated: 04-27-2005 09:13:29 AM
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Akron Beacon Journal via Associated Press
For the past 10 years, a capital improvements levy had helped the Rittman Fire Department replenish its equipment. In all, close to $1 million was spent making sure the firefighters had what they needed to fight a fire.
With those purchases under the department's belt, its needs have changed. Now, it isn't capital money that the department lacks. In the days of tight city budgets, the department needs operating cash -- money with which to pay its firefighters for the hours they log, Chief Donald Banfield said.
That's why the department is headed back to the voters in May -- trying to exchange the 1.4-mill capital improvement levy with a 5-year, 1-mill operating levy that earmarks 25 percent of its revenue for capital improvements. A slightly higher version of the levy -- a 1.4-mill twin of what it would be replacing -- failed in November.
If passed, the levy would raise about $97,000 annually. It would cost the owner of a $150,000 home $45.94 annually -- $8.75 more than the 1.4-mill levy it would replace, said Robert Kellogg, city manager.
Banfield said the city is seeing less money filter its way from the state -- money known as the local government fund, which is revenue from the state sales tax -- and that is forcing all the city departments to tighten their belts.
But there isn't a lot of wiggle room for a department made up almost entirely of volunteers -- Banfield is the only full-time employee, earning a whopping $6,200 a year. The 36 firefighters are paid an hourly rate of $8 an hour when they report to a fire, he said.
Banfield is proud of the fact that the department routinely is ranked highly among volunteer forces, and it always gets a great rating for its performance -- a rating that helps insurance companies set the rates they charge residents of a particular community.
He said he understands the difficulty voters face with levies from various organizations -- including a school levy that will be on the same ballot. Fire protection is something that you might not use everyday, but you are glad it is there when you need it, he said.
''If it fails again, we'll have to get something the citizens will approve,'' Banfield said. ''It's just getting tougher and tougher. ''
This, coming from a department that has had an aeriel "quint" for about a year that is still not fully "in service". I used to be a member of this department before I moved to Orrville. Very diverse population there as far as economics go. I am sure they could use the operating income more than the capital now. Besides the aeriel, they have also attached a new station to the police department. I hope they pass the levy and move on with their operation. From the outside looking it, they appear to be a little 'stagnant' at the present time.
The Fire Dept. here in Rittman (EMS and Fire are Separate), desparately needs some operating money in order to continue service. Over the life of the Capital levy, the fire department has replaced nearly all of its equipment with modern firefighting equipment. The last major purchase being the 100' Sutphen Tower that Rich was talking about.
As many other departments can attest to, "TIMES ARE HARD". Currently the fire department gets ALL of its operations money from the City's general fund. In these tight budget days, something has to give. Unfortunately for us...it is typically the services that are there as a precaution...Police, Fire, EMS...that get the budget ax first. The general public wonders why they are paying for "what ifs..." and says enough is enough to more taxes. If the Fire department Levy does not pass...not only do they have no capital income from the current levy (it has expired), but they most likely will lose money typically budgeted to the fire department from the general fund. That lost revenue for the fire department will likely go to another city department where the citizen's can see the value everyday...water, sewer, streets. The department already has limited funding for general maint., training and payroll. This lost income could potentially jeopardize the safety of the firefighters and the public.
Well I hope that gave you a bit more insight...
Come November..EMS will have a renewal on the ballot for our operations...
Doesn't sound good at all.......
I can relate to that ...........I hope that the levy(ies) pass to keep them in operation. And thanks for inside scoop for better understanding.