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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2014

1.5-mill fire levy to be placed on November ballot

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania Township Trustees cast the final vote Tuesday to place a 1.5 mill levy for the fire department on the November ballot.

Trustees voted 2-1 on the levy with chairman John Jennewine voting no. 

The levy would collect about $1.81 million annually and the money would pay for operations, including replacing aging equipment. It would cost the owner with a $150,000 home $78 annually.

Before the vote Mr. Jennewine argued that while the fire department was in need of money, he was not confident the department clearly communicated to the public its needs and how the funds would be spent. He cited  a department report that had been updated numerous times in the past months.

“I feel the fire department leadership, since I’ve been here, has never been better, but I wish some things would have been discussed,” he said. “What bothers me the most was that in June we were looking to hire an additional staff member and at some point that changed to hiring two people next year.” 

Trustees John Crandall and Neal Mahoney responded that fiscal responsibility would be maintained if voters approved the levy.

The number if incidents to which the department responds are increasing at 5 percent annually. The township is also considering restoring patient-transport services, which also would add to the department’s responsibilities. The township‘‍s contract with union firefighters specifies the department must have a minimum of 58 full-time employees if the transport is established, which means the department would need two additional full-time employees.

“We will still be grinding numbers with the chief [Jeff Kowalski]” on a monthly basis, Mr. Mahoney said about budget reviews.

During the public-comment session resident Richard Bitter told the trustees he benefited from the department’s quick response time and medical expertise. He recounted a cold December day when he was found in his car in cardiac arrest and the firefighter paramedics revived him.

“They [fire department] are not asking the township for levy funds. They are asking for the township to allow the residents to decide if they want a levy,” he said in a plea for the board’s unanimous vote.

Mr. Crandall said the next step is forming a citizen-lead levy committee. The administration is discussing who should chair it.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso. 



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