Many Clinton County voters to face fire/EMS levies


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



Four tax levy questions are on local ballots seeking more revenue to provide fire protection and/or life squad services.

The levies involve the Adams East Fire District for both fire protection and emergency medical services (EMS); the Clinton-Warren Joint Fire & Rescue for both fire protection and EMS; Clark Township for EMS; and Marion Township for EMS.

Adams East Fire District

This ballot issue asks to replace the 4 mills of an existing levy and add 2.5 mills for both fire protection and emergency medical services for a five-year period, first due in 2021.

Additional funds are needed to pay for cost increases all the way around, said Adams Township Trustee Chris Collett. Specifically, that includes 24-hour staffing costs, emergency medical technicians, increased equipment costs, and an increase in training costs.

Emergency run numbers have gone up the prior six to eight years, and some things need to be replaced, added Collett.

If voters approve the levy, the net annual increase that will be due from a $100,000 residential homeowner is about $142.14, according to Clinton County Chief Deputy Auditor Logan M. Bailey.

And if the levy passes, the Adams East Fire District will annually collect an estimated additional revenue of $147,966.

Voters should know that though the ballot language only refers to fire protection, when voters of the Adams East Fire District vote for the levy, they will be authorizing both fire protection and emergency medical services.

Under the Ohio Revised Code, every fire protection services levy also includes emergency medical services, said Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Chief Counsel Andrew McCoy.

Adams East Fire District contracts with the Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District & EMS to provide these EMS and fire protection services.

Clinton-Warren Joint Fire & Rescue

This ballot issue asks to replace the 4 mills of an existing levy and add 2.5 mills for both fire protection and emergency medical services for a five-year period, first due in 2021.

Additional funds are needed to maintain and keep the district’s 24-hour coverage for EMS and for fire, said Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District & EMS Chief Bob Wysong.

The funds will also be used to replace old fire equipment that’s about to “give up the ghost,” said the chief, pointing to both a life squad vehicle and a fire engine.

Additional funds are also needed due to an overall increase in the cost of training emergency medical technicians as well as an increase in equipment costs.

“Equipment costs have gone sky high,” Wysong remarked.

The run volume is up significantly from just five years ago, added Wysong.

“We’re trying to give taxpayers the best for their money. When you have staff on-station, they can get out the door quicker, but when you rely on volunteers they may or may not be there,” he said.

Wysong said Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District & EMS has always had good support from the community and fire district.

“We want to maintain the level of service that residents want. Unfortunately, we’re having to ask for an increase, but in order to maintain the service level that’s why we’re doing it. We’re proud of what we’ve done here, and want to be able to continue that,” he said.

If voters approve the levy, the net annual increase that will be due from a $100,000 residential homeowner is about $124.10, according to the Clinton County Auditor’s Office.

And if the levy passes, the Clinton-Warren Joint Fire District & EMS will annually collect an estimated additional revenue of $416,883.

Clark Township (including Martinsville)

This ballot issue asks for approval of an additional tax to provide emergency medical services from the Clark Township Life Squad. It is a 3-mills levy for a five-year time period, first due in 2021.

Additional funds are needed in order to continue a paid part-time crew of medical emergency personnel, said Clark Township Life Squad Chief Dan Quigley.

A paid part-time roster to run the life squad has been tried out for a couple years and has been “working out great,” Quigley said.

The late Michael Jones, the former Clark Township Life Squad chief, saw a need to have a paid part-time crew, said Quigley.

Anymore, volunteers for emergency medical services in the county are “few and far between,” the chief said.

Moreover, the price of everything is going up and additional funds are needed to cover costs, he added.

Clark Township has an existing EMS levy of 0.75 mill, and an existing fire and EMS levy of o.7 mill, according to the Clinton County Auditor’s Office.

“We’ve done everything we can do with the funds we have. This levy is just to cover the cost of having a life squad vehicle and a crew to keep it going,” said Quigley.

He added, “We appreciate everything people in Clark Township do for us.”

If voters approve the levy, the net annual increase that will be due from a $100,000 residential homeowner is about $105, according to the Clinton County Auditor’s Office.

And if the levy passes, the Clark Township Life Squad will annually collect an estimated additional revenue of $133,963.

Marion Township (including Blanchester)

This ballot issue asks to replace 3.5 mills of an existing levy and add 2 mills to provide emergency medical services from Blanchester EMS. It is for a five-year time period, first due in 2021.

“This is the first time in 18 years we have asked for additional money — even through the many operational increases such as the rising cost of medications and supplies, maintenance and upkeep of our fleet, insurance, utilities and so on,” said Blanchester EMS Chief James Burroughs.

The additional funds will help with all of those expenditures, Burroughs said, and help to upgrade some of the aging equipment and maintain the building that was built in 1976.

“It will also help us to be able to recruit and train new EMTs [emergency medical technicians] and retain our current staff for an even stronger department going into the next 20 years,” the chief said.

Further, the levy’s revenue will provide Blanchester and Marion Township with 2 EMTs who will offer Advanced Life Support 24/7/365, he said.

The run volume in Blanchester EMS’ service area has significantly increased over the years: The life squad currently responds to approximately 1,200 calls per year.

“We want the taxpayers to know Blanchester Life Squad has a very solid and efficient, caring staff who needs your support. The life squad belongs to you, the people of this district. We are proud of what we do, and the people of Blanchester and Marion Township should take pride in knowing that you have built and maintained a great department,” stated Burroughs (his written emphases in the quote).

The Blanchester Life Squad has been staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the past 20 years.

If voters approve the levy, the net annual increase that will be due from a $100,000 residential homeowner is about $108.90, according to the Clinton County Auditor’s Office. That amounts to less than $10 per month for a $100,000 residential homeowner, noted Burroughs.

And if the levy passes, Blanchester EMS will annually collect an estimated additional revenue of $253,987.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

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By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com