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Rossford voters may be asked to approve a new tax to fund their fire department this year, but not in May. They will, however, go to the polls that month to decide on renewal requests for two existing fire levies.
Council’s public safety committee recommended the request for the new 0.5-mill tax be adopted as an emergency measure at last week’s council meeting and appear on the May ballot, citing the need to maintain the city’s fire equipment and buildings. It would raise $61,514.74 cents annually, committee chairman Dan Wagner said.
But the proposal failed to attract the five votes needed to suspend the rules for adoption as an emergency, meaning the city cannot make the Feb. 5 filing deadline for the May ballot.
The council vote was 4-3, with Robert Ruse, Joseph Minarcin, and Greg Marquette voting no. Supporting the measure were Caroline Eckel, Mr. Wagner, Jerry Staczek, and Larry Oberdorf.
Before the vote, Mr. Marquette expressed concern at the number of levies the city would have on the ballot. Rossford voters also will decide on replacement requests for two recreation levies on May 6.
Mr. Ruse said he had no problem suspending the rules and placing the fire levy renewals on the May ballot as an emergency, but believed a request for an additional tax should be handled with the usual three readings by council. “I’d like to consider putting that off until November,” he said. He said he had only seen the minutes of the safety committee meeting resulting in the recommendation that evening.
Ms. Eckel disagreed: “The sooner we get this on the ballot, the better.” Including the request for new fire department money, “We have five levies in the spring, but we don’t know what the fall will bring,” she said, alluding to the possibility of school district tax requests.
Mr. Wagner, who chairs the safety committee, said it didn’t matter if council passed the measure as an emergency. “Ultimately, the voters will decide,” he added, a statement that was supported by Mayor Neil MacKinnon.
Mr. Minarcin asked if the request for new tax money was so important that it couldn’t wait until November. Rossford Administrator Ed Ciecka explained that collection of the funds could not begin until January, 2015, no matter when the tax request appeared on the ballot this year.
The fire levy renewals are for five years and cover the cost of firefighters’ pay and repairing and buying equipment.
The are 1 mill and 0.6 mills. Together, they cost the owner of a $100,000 home $49 annually, according to the Wood County Auditor. The city’s two replacement levy requests for the recreation department are 0.4 mills each and together would cost the owner of a home with the same value about $28 per year.
In other action, council approved the purchase of 700 tons of road salt through an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation at a cost of $32.52 per ton.