Fowler: Levies needed to fund EMS, fire department

Officials want to update standards

FOWLER — Township officials are asking for funds to extend emergency medical services and to keep the fire department’s doors open.

Two fire service levies, a 1.5-mill renewal and a 3.5-mill continuing levy, will be on the ballot Nov. 8. If they pass, the measures, the first of which would increase the current rate of $25.18 by $27.32, bringing it to $52.50 a year, and the second would cost owners of a $100,000 home $122.50 a year, or 34 cents a day.

Trustees said the two levies are about increasing services and bringing the fire department into line with other neighboring communities.

The 1.5 mill renewal levy, in effect since the late 1980s, is on the ballot to allow for “adjustment for inflation,” officials said. Existing funds are estimated at a worth about 3/4 or less the original value, officials said.

“The problem is EMS service in the middle of the night,” Trustee Tom Carr said.

The township currently relies on two part-time EMS trained personnel during the week. The rest of the time, Carr said, neighboring communities lend services to the township.

The township would like to employ full-time EMS service. The trustees said the aging population needs services available.

“We want to update the current standards,” Trustee Al Crabbs said.

Crabbs agreed passing the renewal levy is crucial and passing the continuing levy is necessary.

The levy funds, along with some additional funding from the general fund, he said, cover the expense of emergency medical services for every citizen in the township.

According to Crabbs, typical ambulance service costs $850 to $900 dollars — money that is spent in other communities.

The township covers any amount that exceeds the price of a resident’s insurance and completely covers the cost of those without insurance, the trustee said.

“We are getting to a place where we can’t do this anymore, however,” Crabbs said.

The trustees said they would also like to see new equipment for the fire station.

“The trucks are dated, 25-plus years old,” Crabbs said. “Though they were the best on the market at the time they were purchased.”

According to Fred Yungbluth, fire chief, upgrades are necessary.

“The last time we bought fire equipment was 1996 and 2004,” he said. He said he wants citizens to vote for the additional funding to “help us to protect you.”

Both trustees and the fire chief said the township has used funding well and tried to be “good stewards” of the taxpayer funding. Despite this, funding has been stretched as far as it can go, they said. They are holding an informational meeting for citizens 7 p.m. Oct. 26 to discuss the levies.

“We need to ask for a little more to advance the services we can provide,” Carr said.