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Five municipalities seek voter approval of fire, EMS levies

By Dave O'Brien Staff Writer Published: October 30, 2016 4:00 AM

Two Portage County townships are seeking additional funds from voters on the Nov. 8 ballot to help maintain fire protection and emergency medical service.

Three other fire departments are seeking renewals of existing levies.

Edinburg is seeking voter approval of Issue 10, a 2.1-mill, five-year additional levy for fire and EMS service. It will raise slightly more than $120,000 per year for five years and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $73.50 per year, according to the Portage County Auditor's Office.

Edinburg Fire Lt. Shannon Paulus said a portion of the new money will be used to improve staffing at the fire station. Edinburg firefighters currently are part-time, and paid a standard wage for the hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

From 6 p.m. to midnight, they make minimum wage, but volunteer their time from midnight to 6 a.m., she said. Only if they go out on a call during those early morning hours do they get paid, Paulus said.

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"With the levy, it would enable us to pay the wage rate over all 24 hours," she said. "We'd like to get to the point we can pay everyone for the 24 hours they work."

Levy money also will be used for general upkeep of vehicles, maintenance and replacement of equipment. Paulus said the department recently saved Edinburg "a substantial amount" by purchasing a demonstration model squad at a reduced cost.

"Our community, they like the fact we're there 24 hours a day," Paulus said. "It makes the response a lot quicker, and in general, it helps the community."

Issue 12, Palmyra's 2-mill additional levy for fire and EMS, is designed to raise $110,595 per year, according to the auditor's office. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $70 per year.

According to Palmyra Township trustees, the levy will help pay for the day-to-day operations of the fire department. These include the purchase and replacement of equipment, fire station maintenance, hiring staff and maintaining staffing levels to provide emergency medical response and fire protection to the eastern Portage County township.

The renewals also on the ballot will not raise taxes. They include:

Issue 1, the Aurora Fire Department's 1.5-mill, five-year renewal levy for ambulance and EMS service;

Issue 9, the Deerfield Fire Department's 1.75-mill five-year renewal levy for fire and EMS; and

Issue 28, the Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson's Fire Department's 3.2-mill, five-year renewal levy for fire protection.


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