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Date last updated: Tuesday, October 23, 11:24 PST
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Ohio fire station may close if levy not passed
By Quan Truong
The Columbus Dispatch
TRURO TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Truro Township officials say they might have to lay off firefighters and even close a fire station if voters don't pass a levy in November.
"We're at the point where it's not a want, it's a need. It's pretty critical, budgetwise," said Fire Chief Steve Hein.
The 3.9-mill permanent levy would bring in $1.8 million a year for the department. It would cost homeowners about $120 a year per $100,000 of home valuation.
Over the past couple of years, the fire budget has dwindled by about $1 million because of losses from the state's local-government fund, recent property re-evaluations and the elimination of the tangible personal-property tax. The fire department's annual operating budget is $6.8 million.
Meanwhile, the demand for service in the past decade increased by 63 percent, from 3,781 responses in 2002 to 6,149 in 2011, said Jason Nicodemus, township administrator.
He attributes that to an increase in population and health problems among aging residents. The fire department covers roughly 9 square miles in the township, Reynoldsburg and the village of Brice.
To meet the demand, the township opened a second fire station in 2007. Without more money, Nicodemus said, it's possible the township will close it and cut staff.
The department has made a number of cuts over the past few years, Hein said. He has put off buying new fire equipment. The part-time firefighters program was eliminated, which affected 12 people, and one full-time position was not filled. Pay has been frozen for next year, and employees' health-insurance contributions were increased from 9 percent to 15 percent.
The most-recent fire levy was approved in 2002. If voters pass one this year, it will keep the department in the black for six to eight years, Nicodemus said.
Copyright 2012 The Columbus Dispatch
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