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Voters in 2 townships asked for fire levy support

SALEM — Voters in Butler Township and in the Northwest Fire District of Salem Township are both being asked to pay a little more money to support fire protection services, with rising costs the reason.

Northwest Fire District residents in Salem Township will see an additional 1-mill, five-year fire levy on the Nov. 2 ballot to help cover costs for Winona Fire Department services.

Butler Township residents will see an additional .75-mill, five-year emergency services levy to help cover costs for the Winona and Damascus fire departments, which both serve the township.

Jim Conser, chairman of the levy committee and one of five trustees for the Winona Fire Department, along with being a firefighter, said the equipment is very expensive and most of the people in the community have seen there’s a need. Members of the fire department distributed informational flyers door-to-door in both the Northwest Fire District in Salem Township and in Butler Township.

“We’ve got great support so far. No one likes to pay taxes, but at least locally they know where it goes,” Conser said.

Both Butler Township and the Northwest Fire District in Salem Township currently have 2-mill continuous fire levies to cover fire protection services. The new levies would be in addition to those levies and cost taxpayers more money.

The .75-mill levy for Butler Township will generate $60,000 per year if approved, according to a levy analysis by the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office, costing the owner of a home valued at $50,000 an additional $13.13 per year. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, the additional cost would be $26.25 per year, and for a $150,000 home, the additional cost would be $39.38 per year. The last increase in taxes for fire service in Butler Township was approved by voters in 2008. The proceeds are split between the Winona and Damascus fire departments.

The Winona Fire Department covers an area from Depot Road north to Georgetown Road in Butler Township, with Damascus Fire Department covering the area from U.S. Route 62 south to Georgetown Road in Butler Township.

The Northwest Fire District in Salem Township covers an area from state Route 45 to Depot Road, going from Foxden Drive to Miller Road.

The proposed 1-mill, five-year levy for the Northwest Fire District will generate $20,100 a year for the fire district if approved. For the owner of a home valued at $50,000, the additional cost would be $17.50 per year. For a $100,000 home value, the additional cost would be $35 per year. For a $150,000 home value, the additional cost would be $52.50. The last tax increase for the Northwest Fire District was approved by voters in 2013.

In both cases, trustees in Salem and Butler townships approved placing the additional levies on the ballot.

The brochures pointed out the increase in taxes will be seen in “improved equipment, firefighting and rescue capabilities, and Emergency Medical Services.”

Conser highlighted some of the department’s costs, saying a new 3,000-gallon tanker truck was purchased recently for $255,000 via a loan, replacing the old tanker which had a 20-year-old chassis and a 32-year-old tank. The levies will help pay for that loan.

The department also recently added Emergency Medical Services with the ability to transport, buying a used ambulance from Sebring for $150,000. He said the truck is a 1998, but in good condition. University Hospitals advise the Emergency Medical Services program. The department has been responding on ambulance calls, but now there’s the ability to transport.

Damascus had already had an ambulance/EMS service.

The Winona fire department fleet includes two engines, the tanker, rescue truck, grass truck and ambulance. The main engine is 15 years old and needs some refurbishing. The other engine is a 1997.

To fully equip one firefighter, with turnout gear, helmet, boots, air packs and radio costs $9,500. Turnout gear must be replaced every 10 years. Training also costs and there are expenses every year for ladder testing, air pack testing and other costs and equipment costs. There are also costs for truck maintenance, annual insurance premiums, utility costs for gas, fuel, dispatch, electric, sewer, phone etc.

Both the Winona and Damascus stations will need roofs replaced, fire hose replacement and the refurbishment of engines in the future.

Conser said the departments also rely on donations and they do apply for grants when they’re eligible.

Salem Township also contracts with the Leetonia Fire Department for fire service in the section of township from state Route 45 east towards Leetonia, with those costs covered by a separate levy.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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