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Sylvania Twp. officials plan to vote on fire services levy

Sylvania Township officials plan to vote early next month on a November levy that would pay for fire services.

Administrator John Zeitler said he expects to have details about the levy, including the amount,  at the 4 p.m. July 1 meeting.

Chairman John Jennewine pressed Fire Chief Jeff Kowalski and Mr. Zeitler for a concrete figure regarding the levy amount, citing a shrinking timeline.

“We are going to be asking the public in a few short months for more money, so I’m trying to drill down these figures,” Mr. Jennewine said, pointing to a departmental review report compiled by Chief Kowalski, Mr. Zeitler, and Trustee John Crandall.

He said the report was assembled in a way that makes it difficult for him to assess the department’s needs. He asked Chief Kowalski for a business plan next year to ensure levy funds are properly spent.

Officials have released a report detailing financial figures, procedures, and an inventory of equipment for public review before November. The report was prompted because the fire department’s budget forecasts a $1.2 million deficit in 2016.

The amount of the levy and the revenue it will generate can be calculated only after trustees make several decisions, Mr. Zeitler said.

Trustees must decide whether to continue using private ambulances to respond to non-emergency medical calls. The response times for these calls have been creeping up, with some residents waiting more than 20 minutes for an ambulance. Sometimes, an ambulance never shows up.

Mr. Zeitler said if trustees decide to offer ambulance service for those calls the township needs to “work with the unions” about staffing to determine final cost.

Mr. Jennewine said it’s difficult to decide on a levy if “we don’t know the direction of the department.”

“My fear is if we don’t have a business plan in place for next year the money may not be spent according to the budget,” Mr. Jennewine said after the meeting.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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