WARREN - Three ballot questions to help fund the police and fire departments in Howland will be decided by voters in the township this election cycle.
The levies are needed to maintain the level of public service township residents have come to expect, especially since revenue coming into the township has been cut ''half a dozen different ways,'' Trustee Rick Clark said.
The ballot questions are:
Combine two .5-mill continuing levies voters approved in 1976 and replace them with a .75-mill continuing levy;
Combine two 1-mill continuing levies voters approved in 1976 and 1977 and replace them with a 1.75-mill continuing levy;
Replace a 1-mill continuing levy approved in 1987 with the same millage now.
A replacement levy raises tax collections to match current property values.
If approved, the levies would raise about $711,000 a year for each the police and fire departments. It would be a funding increase of $288,000 for the police department and $373,000 for the fire department.
For owners of homes with assessed values of $100,000, it would be an additional $64 a year in taxes - $36 for the fire levy and $28 for the police levy.
''To continue to provide the service the residents are accustomed to, we need to ask the voters to combine and replace these levies,'' Clark said.
Trustee Matt Vansuch said the money would be used to secure the future of the departments. But Trustee Jim Saker said there also is an immediate need due to revenue loss, such as cuts made by the state to the local government fund.
In the police department, without the added money, police officers who retire won't be replaced, said Chief Paul Monroe, and some special programs like foot patrols or the school resource officer ''could go by the wayside,'' Clark said.
In the fire department, Chief Jim Pantalone said the money would go toward updating some equipment, including cardiac monitors that are nearing their 10-year life span and to continue a cycle of purchasing the protective gear worn by firefighters.
In addition, the department's ladder truck is more than 20 years old and the engine more than 25, the chief said.
''We're beginning seeing some of our expenditures, annual operating expenditures, increase when that life of the vehicle begins to deteriorate and although they look beautiful on the outside, there's the operation underneath the hood that's most important for quality and safety,'' Pantalone said.
The township has made an effort to reduce costs.
Wages for police officers, firefighters and public works' department employees are frozen through 2013 and there have been attempts toward sharing resources with other communities. Also, employees pay 3 percent toward their health care premium. Health insurance costs are down too, by at least $50,000 last year.