BROOKFIELD - Voters here are being asked to approve a 1-mill, five-year police and fire emergency levy in the November general election.
The levy is for equipment, maintenance and other supplies for the police and fire departments, said Trustee J. Phillip Schmidt.
It is expected to generate between $120,000 and $125,000 annually at a cost of $35 per year for every $100,000 in property value. Schmidt said the levy was written in such a way that the money will not be allowed to be used for salaries.
While he said the money is needed because of recent cuts by the state to the local government fund, Schmidt said he voted against the levy in session because he does not want to tie the hands of future trustees on how the money should be spent. Those decisions should be made when the township determines its budget, he said.
Trustees are pursuing a police merger with Hubbard and Hubbard Township. Previous discussions for a fire merger with neighboring departments fell through.
The trustees and departments encountered opposition from residents over whether the levy funds should be split 50/50 or if they should be discretionary according to the needs of the departments as they arise, with some residents taking the latter view.
Where all three trustees agree though is that Brookfield needs the help.
Fellow Trustee Gary Lees pointed out the loss of $20,000 in EMS collections this year, a hit to the fire department.
Schmidt said the fire department has incurred costs of $4,000 for new tires on some emergency vehicles while a broken tie rod on a truck racked up a $2,500 repair bill.
He said building maintenance, including electrical upgrades to meet new codes and bring costs down, as well as Ohio Edison tacking on a 20-percent rate increase are just a few of the township's other problems.
Police Chief Dan Faustino said he just wants to be able to keep the cars running and keep two officers on the road at all times.
If the levy passes, the paying of maintenance costs from those funds could free up money in the departments to improve personnel concerns.
Trustee Ronald Haun said this type of levy has never been tried before in Trumbull County because such safety levies always include funds for labor costs.
He said this levy format prevents the money from going into a pool that would be subject to labor negotiations and thereby putting the township and safety departments into a position where they will need more money again the following year.
"It is vital that we set ourselves up for the future," Haun said. "It's a tough time to put a levy on but with the cut in state funds both departments have suffered there's only one way for us to get funds."
Cutbacks in personnel, hours, maintenance and other vital areas have already been made, and the township is already working on a feasibility study to determine how they will proceed if the levy fails.