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Fire departments will ask for money

Two levies on the November ballot will provide better firefighting equipment and better insurance rates, fire department officials say.

Monday, October 18, 1999

Two levies on the November ballot will provide better firefighting equipment and better insurance rates, fire department officials say.

The Village of Chesapeake is running an additional 1 1/2-mill, five-year fire levy. Upper Township, excluding the City of Ironton and Village of Coal Grove, is running an additional five-year, 2-mill fire levy.

Fire departments in both governments plan to use the new property taxes to upgrade equipment and bolster budgets.

Those plans should help lower insurance costs to homeowners because the fire rating of the department will improve, said Gary Maynard, chief of Chesapeake-Union Volunteer Fire Department.

"It’s not going to be people paying more," Maynard said. "The difference will be made up in the insurance rates."

The levy will apply only to the Chesapeake district. Although the Chesapeake and Union departments are together, they operate from separate budgets – one provided by the village and one provided by the township, Maynard said.

"Right now, the village only brings in about $13,000 a year for the department and that’s for paying on insurance, workman’s comp, upkeep, fuel so really we’re way behind as far as levy money," he said.

And by the end of the year, funds are usually exhausted just on maintenance and upkeep, Maynard said.

A pumper truck that is out of service right now with carburetor problems needs replaced, but the department does not have the funding, he said.

"This truck is what will be used for firefighting," he said. "If we can get the levy, we can have a truck financed over a five year period and still have money to operate on. That’s what we’re trying to get."

Upper Township has a similar levy plan, trustee Bob Ackerman said.

"We’re trying to get the fire department self sufficient with the fire levy," Ackerman said.

The township has one of the smallest budgets of all 14 townships, he said.

Although a 1-mill permanent fire levy exists, with little property development over the years, the fire department’s $11,000 a year budget barely funds basic equipment and upkeep, Ackerman said.

"Every township fights this," he said. "If we can get this levy passed then they will have money to carry their own weight."

Then, the township can free up funds for more paving and needed equipment, Ackerman said.

Assistant fire chief Jeff Scott said residents have given positive feedback on the levy so far.

The long term goals are to replace at least one truck that is 29 years old, keep up with maintenance and lower residents’ insurance costs, Scott said.

"It’s like 20 cents for every $1,000 (in property), and, actually, if the levy goes through, within a year or two we could re-apply for a lower ISO and it (the tax) wouldn’t be much of a burden at all compared to what will be saved on insurance."