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Levy will bring more equipment

Extra levy dollars in Upper Township will mean at least one new fire truck and a chance at lower homeowners insurance rates, fire department officials say.

Monday, November 15, 1999

Extra levy dollars in Upper Township will mean at least one new fire truck and a chance at lower homeowners insurance rates, fire department officials say.

On behalf of Upper Township Volunteer Fire Department, township trustees placed an additional five-year 2-mill fire levy, excluding the City of Ironton and Village of Coal Grove, on this year’s General Election ballot.

It won approval Nov. 2 by a vote of 388 to 292.

During a time when levies have become unpopular among voters, fire officials decided to ask for additional tax dollars anyway because of dwindling budget money, assistant chief Jeff Scott said.

"To ask for someone to pay for more taxes just goes against my grain but one thing they (voters) were glad to see was this money does not go into anyone’s pockets," Scott said.

Upper does not pay its volunteers for each fire run and does not pay its chief, he said.

Although a continuing levy funds the department, too, that levy depreciates each year, meaning the income goes down while firefighting expenses go up, Scott said.

"We’ve only been fortunate that we’ve been able to get what we’ve got with one levy and fundraisers so far," he said. "This levy is just for equipment right here in their township and they can see what this money is doing and I think that’s what helped us win it."

The new levy funds will replace one of three aging pumper trucks and will fund small equipment like hand tools, exhaust fans, proper fire hoses and nozzles.

Better trucks and equipment also increase firefighting power through higher water flow at fire scenes – a statistic to which insurance companies pay close attention, Scott said.

Insurance companies rate areas with no fire department as a Class 10. Upper Township has a Class 9 rating right now, he said.

"We hope to change that in the near future to a class 8 or 7 and we have to have more trucks to do that," he said.

The new levy could help put more than the current 15 volunteers on the fire department’s roll call, too, Scott added.

Before, when new recruits joined, the department often asked them immediately to work a weekend fund-raiser or to help repair a truck, he said.

"With the levy, hopefully, instead of having to sell candy bars, we can do more training, something that will be more of an attraction."

Plans for using new levy funds are still in the early stages, though, and fire officials urge any residents to come to the department’s monthly meetings if they have ideas, Scott said.