Howland asks for fire levy

HOWLAND — Voters in the township will be asked to approve a levy for the fire department that officials said will raise nearly $1 million a year.

Township trustees by a 3-0 vote Monday approved placing a 2.25-mill, five-year fire levy on the November general election ballot.

Trustee Chairman James LaPolla said the levy will generate about $950,000 annually. Fire Chief James Pantalone said if the levy passes, the owner of $100,000 home would pay around $86.36 per year.

Officials said the levy will help beef up the budget for the day-to-day needs of the department.

“With the loss of local government funds from the state, there has been less money to operate the fire department,” LaPolla said.

He said the levy will help the fire department cover the increasing number of calls it takes and will help replace aging equipment that is becoming more expensive.

Pantalone said previously the fire department’s budget this year was rapidly approaching “ground zero.” The department is doing what it can to maintain services and equipment, he said. The department has seen a loss of $300,000 from the tangible personal property tax and also a decrease in millage and property valuation, he said.

Pantalone said the annual call volume has been rising and Howland is the busiest fire department in the county.

“We have an increasing call volume and a decreasing budget,” Pantalone said.

He said the levy funds will help the department purchase a fourth ambulance to handle the increased call volume, increase staff at the Bolindale station to handle more calls there and maintain the services currently provided in other parts of the township.

Township Administrator Darlene St. George said previously that when the state takes away money from local governments, it becomes necessary to go to the taxpayers.

“We have not gone to the taxpayers unless it is a necessity,” she said.