Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Colerain to seek new fire levy

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLERAIN TWP. — The township will ask residents this November to approve a five-year additional levy for fire protection and emergency medical services.

        The board of trustees approved a request from the township's fire department for a 4.34-mill levy.

        The 6.96-mill fire levy that has been in effect since 1988 does not adequately cover fire protection in the township, say fire and township officials.

        If approved, the additional levy will generate about $4.4 million. Because the Hamilton County Board of Elections has yet to certify the levy, the Hamilton County auditor's office has not calculated how much the 4.34-mill levy would cost the average homeowner.

        “One of the key points we're going to make to the citizens is we have not asked for any levies in 12 years,” said Fire Chief Bruce Smith. “That's the longest we've ever gone.”

        Trustee Keith Corman said the benefits of a local levy are tangible, something local taxpayers will see. In addition, said Mr. Corman, good fire protection translates into lower insurance rates.

        Chief Smith said the number of fire and medical runs is increasing, partly because of an aging population.

        In 1990, the township's fire department made 1,388 fire runs and 2,958 emergency medical runs.

        In 1998, the runs had in creased to 2,149 fire and 5,060 emergency medical runs.

        Chief Smith said that, at that rate, the number of emergency medical runs may reach almost 13,000 by r 2009.

        The department also would like to increase the number of fire personnel on duty at the township's four fire stations from 26 to 32 over the next five years, said the chief.

        He also said officials would like to add a fire station in the northeast portion of the township, in the Pleasant Run area.

        The current levy, which will remain in effect regardless of the fate of the additional levy, generates about $4.6 million a year. But Chief Smith said expenses next year will be about $7 million.

        “We're at a point where the income from the levy will no longer support our current level of operation,” said Chief Smith. “We have told the board (of trustees) for the last year that we have stretched as much as we really can to provide a minimal level of service.”


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