GALLIPOLIS — A replacement continuing fire levy for the City of Gallipolis is expected to appear on ballot this November.
During a recent regular meeting of the Gallipolis City Commission, the City Auditor discussed the benefits of a replacement continuing levy.
“What it would do is we could go out for a two mill replacement continuing fire levy, and it would reset so that you’re getting the entire two mills, which, right now, we’re not,” Auditor Annette Landers stated. “The difference between what we’re collecting right now and what we would collect under this would be about $24,000, which is about half of a payment on a vehicle — one of your fire trucks for a year. It would definitely be worth doing.”
Fire protection for the City of Gallipolis is provided by the Gallipolis Fire Department, located on Chestnut Street. A total of four surrounding townships are covered by the Gallipolis Fire Department, an area of 93 square miles, and according to Landers, after speaking with Gallipolis Fire Chief Keith Elliott, she believes the firefighters would be in favor of such a levy that could help to provide needed newer equipment for their use.
“I’ve talked to Keith about it, and he felt that the firemen would get behind it,” Landers said.
Additionally, Landers stated that, as the city has lost some sources, including property tax reimbursement from the state, the monies the city receives from its fire levy have decreased over the last several years, and, because it is a continuous levy and not an expiring levy, as those in some surrounding townships, their levy does not have the ability to “reset” itself.
“Ours is continuous levy, it’s set that one time, and we have lost some sources — about $25,000 to $30,000 that we’re not getting in the fire levy right now that we were getting two or three years ago,” Landers said. “So, they are hurting, and it’s a good thing we were never stretched out so badly that we had every bit that was coming in dedicated to debt service because, having done so, we would have been in real big trouble.”
Additionally, during the meeting, Commissioner Jim Cozza inquired as to what would happen to their old levy is the new “replacement” levy were to fail during the November election.
“Am I correct in thinking that if this issue goes on the ballot and it’s defeated, then all we do is stay with the levy we already have?” Cozza asked.
“That’s right, because it is a continuous levy, even if they should defeat this one, it doesn’t eliminate it,” Landers answered. “The only thing that would eliminate it is if you got the replacement continuous fire levy, then that would go ahead and replace it, but if it goes down, you’ll stay with what you had before. You’re not losing anything.”
City Commission Vice-president Steve Wallis, who spoke of his desire to see such a levy passed this November, also discussed the many aging apparatuses owned by the Gallipolis Fire Department and the need, in the near future, to replace a lot of that equipment.
“We’ve got a lot of expenses on the fire side and we’re going to have to have funding,” Wallis said. “We’ve got to a lot of stuff to buy, to replace and upgrade. That stuff is getting old. It needs replaced. It’s not always going to be reliable.”
Landers also stated that if the commissioners were all in favor, she would start the process of getting together the legislation needed to be passed by the city commission in order to the issue to appear on the ballot during the general election this fall.
“If you guys agree that that would be something you need to do, we should probably go ahead and start to work on getting that started because we would want it on the ballot in November,” Landers said.
According to the 2013 Ohio Elections Calendar, local issues and questions for the general election, must be filed with boards of elections by 90 days prior to the November election, or by August 7 of this year.