Two fire levies on ballot

Published 8:09 am Friday, November 3, 2017

Perry, Rome townships seek fire protection renewals

Perry and Rome townships will have levies on the ballot next Tuesday.

There is a proposed fire protection levy for Perry Township and the proposed levy for Rome Township is for fire protection and EMS.

Both levies are for one-mill, which amounts to $1 per $1,000 of property value. The levies, if passed, will be in effect for five years.

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The Rome Township is a renewal levy that Rome Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief George Barnett says has been renewed at least twice.

“I’m not sure what the inception date was on that. I know since I’ve been here, it’s been renewed twice,” he said. “I know it was here way before me, so maybe it’s been 15 years.”

He said that the fire department runs on a budget of $66,000, which goes towards many things in a 36 square mile area.

“That goes towards fuel, insurance, utilities, training and various other stuff,” Barnett said.

The department has 23 volunteers and they go on an average of 320 calls a year, whether that is fires, car wrecks, EMS, or just assisting members of the public with what they need.

“My policy is that they are paying a levy, so if they need help, we are going to go,” he said. “If it’s retrieving a snake or whatever it is. We respond to everything.”

Barnett and the Rome Volunteer Fire Department do a lot of fire safety programs.

“We do inspections, we do fire safety events at churches, schools, civic groups,” he said. “So there is a multitude of things that the levy covers besides just fighting fires.”

He said the money also goes towards updating and buying new equipment.

Barnett said that if the levy fails and is put on a ballot later, it could end up cost taxpayers more because the levy is based on the value of property when the levy passes. The renewal is based on the value of property when it passed the first time.

“That was over 10 years ago and property values increase as time goes by,” he said. “The renewal doesn’t cost them any new tax.”

Perry Township Fire Chief Dewey Deerfield said their renewal levy began in the early 1970s.

“We’ve always been fortunate that people have supported this levy,” he said, adding that before the levy was passed, the fire department supported itself by donations and little events like fall festivals. “We have high-quality equipment we provide for the township, I would put it against anyone, even the city.”

He said the 20 volunteer firefighters man two stations, one on State Route 243 near Deering and one on County Road 1 by Sheridan, and runs on a budget of about $40,000-$50,000.

“That’s to cover insurance, getting all your equipment, and fuel for the vehicles,” Deerfield said. “We run Freightliner trucks, so when we do something as simple as an oil change, you’re not talking about five quarts of oil, it’s like 15 or 20 gallons of oil. It’s quite expensive.”

Deerfield said about 80 percent of the calls they get are vehicle accidents.

“Where we have County Road 1, Grandview Lane and where they put all those traffic lights, we have all those wreckable locations,” he said. “It’s crazy sometimes.”

He said the main reason people should vote for the renewal levy is for fire protection and upkeep of the equipment.

“Our members are totally volunteer, they get no benefits, no health insurance, they get nothing out of it for personal gain,” Deerfield said. “So, the money goes to maintain the equipment.”

Voting hours for the Nov. 7 General Election

• Monday, Oct. 30 – Nov. 3
• Monday – Friday; 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Nov. 4; 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
• Sunday, Nov. 5; 1-5 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 6; 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 7; Polls open 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Early In-Person Voting Hours for November

• Nov. 4: Deadline to request an absentee ballot (Noon)
• Nov. 6: Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked
by this date
• Nov. 7: General Election: Polls are open from
6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
• Nov. 7: Voters are able to drop off absentee ballot at
their county board of elections office until 7:30 p.m.