Fire Levy Vote Could Determine Future Fire Protection
A big Election Day decision is approaching as fire protection could change for some Franklin County residents.
Franklin Township voters narrowly defeated a fire levy this past May.
If the 5.36-mill levy fails again, quick response time could be in jeopardy.
"Unfortunately in our situation, the only area in which we can make cuts significant enough to keep our numbers solvent would be with personnel,” said Franklin Township Assistant Fire Chief Chris Grile.
Grile says he is proud of his department’s average response time of four and a half minutes, which is below the national recommendation of six minutes. He says a reduction in personnel would lead to fewer trucks on the road and potentially slower response.
"That's going to lead to increased response times for our residents and generally affect their safety directly by not having the amount of trained professional safety workers in their area,” Grile said.
Grile added that mutual aid agreements could be affected by a failed levy, meaning the possibility Columbus fire trucks could not respond to calls in Franklin Township and vice versa.
If the levy passes, Grile says it would generate $800,000 a year to be used to maintain operating costs.
In addition to a campaign featuring billboards and yard signs, firefighters have also taken a personal approach to getting the word out. They have been taking flyers door-to-door with the hopes of talking with as many residents as possible face-to-face.
"They were out on their off-duty time, volunteering their time to come here and speak about the levy, campaign for it,” said Franklin Township resident George Wagner.
Wagner says he would not mind increased taxes if the levy passes.
The increase would be about $82 on a $50,000 home or about $164 on a $100,000 home.
"It's just a few dollars a month,” Wagner said. “I think people can easily budget that over a monthly basis or over a yearly basis."
But fellow resident Jeremiah Caldwell disagrees.
"A lot of people over here, financially, and everywhere are hurting right now with everything that's going on in this country and I just think that the levy itself is a waste of money,” Caldwell said.
Pass or fail, Franklin Township firefighters say their mission will not change.
"It doesn't matter to us, we're here to serve them and we're going to do the best to provide the best service we can,” Grile said.