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2016 Fire & EMS Safety Levy Facts

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 Levy CALCULATOR

Tax levy calculators are online tools for property owners to view the annual cost associated with proposed and existing tax levies.

 

Property owners can learn how their property taxes are distributed to the various political subdivisions. (NOTE: Franklin County calculates tax distributions by political subdivision and not individual parcels.)

 

The figures provided are estimates only.

 

To use a levy calculator, click on the link for the county in which you reside.

 

Franklin County

Delaware County (under construction)


What is the 2.8 mill property tax issue the City of Westerville and Blendon Twp. is proposing?

The Westerville Division of Fire, which provides Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to the residents and business of Westerville and Blendon Township, is funded by a series of dedicated, voter-approved property tax levies in the City and Township. Due to state law, the rate of these levies is reduced over time so that the revenues generated by the levy do not increase as the value of properties increase. Therefore, as the cost of delivering these services increases (personnel, supplies, materials, equipment, etc.), the City and Township must periodically seek an increase in the approved tax levy rates to cover the cost of inflation.

When was the last funding request made?
Voters in the City and Township last approved funding for Fire and EMS in May 2010 when they approved a 2.6 mill levy.

What is the duration of the proposed levy?
The requested 2.8 mill levy is proposed as a new permanent or “continuing” levy under Ohio law. All of the Fire/EMS levies approved by Westerville voters since 1977 have been permanent levies with the exception of one. In 2002, voters approved a 0.2 mill bond issue for 20 years to fund construction of Station 112 on Schrock Rd. This bond levy will expire in 2022 when the debt issued to construct this facility is paid off.

If this funding request is approved, how long can we expect it last before new funds are requested?
In general, the City and Township have tried to make Fire/EMS levies last at least six years. That was the commitment in 2010 when voters approved the 2.6 mill levy. Prior to that, in 2002, voters approved a 3.4 mill operating levy that was promised to last for six years. However, a new funding request was not made until 2010 (two years longer than promised).

If approved, when would the tax begin?
If voters approve the additional levy in 2016, it would not hit tax bills until 2017 and would be payable with the first property tax bills of that year.

How much am I currently paying for this service and what will this increase cost me?
Currently, property owners of Westerville and Blendon are paying roughly $306 per year for Fire and EMS services for every $100,000 of home market value. If voters approve this levy request, they will pay an additional $98 per year, or $8.17 per month, for every $100,000 of home value.  

Won't the state of Ohio cover some of this tax increase with the non-business and owner-occupied roll-back?
No. Up until this year, the state of Ohio would provide qualifying homeowners a reduction of up to 12.5% of the property tax bill and would remit that amount to local taxing jurisdictions from the state’s General Fund to make up the difference. As of the most recent state budget bill passed in 2015, this no longer applies to new tax levies going forward. Furthermore, the elimination of the tangible personal property tax by the Ohio General Assembly has eliminated this value (mostly attributed to business equipment) from the tax rolls, increasing the burden on residential property owners.

How has local tax support for this service increased over time?
In 2002, voters approved a 3.4 mill levy for Fire and EMS that enabled the Fire Division to reach recommended staffing levels. In the 12 years that followed (2003-2015), tax revenues grew by an annual average rate of 2.275%. After adjusting for inflation during this period however, the Fire Division’s level of tax support is slightly less today than it was in 2003. A significant part of this impact is attributable to the Ohio General Assembly’s elimination of Tangible Personal Property Taxes on business and industry as previously noted. The last year this tax was in effect was 2011 and at its peak in 2007, it generated $864,078 for the Fire Division – nearly the equivalent of 1 mill in property taxes. 

Are there any projected building, equipment or staff additions anticipated within the proposed levy?
There are no major additions planned within the next six years. The next six years will focus on maintaining current facilities (some of which are now 30 years old), replacing current, aging equipment and apparatus, and maintaining historic staffing levels. In the past six years, funds projected to be generated by the 2010 levy did not completely materialize due to an unanticipated drop in property values and increased delinquencies. This caused a reduction annually of between $400,000 - $500,000 in projected levy income and resulted in the deferral of certain capital projects and the reduction by attrition of four full-time positions.  There are no projects planned during this levy cycle requiring the issuance of debt.

Why is this funding request necessary?
In addition to the impact of inflation in the operations of the Fire Division, the overall response activity of the Division is steadily growing. This is due to a steady increase in calls for rescue and emergency medical services.  For example, in 2014, the Fire Division responded to 562 more EMS calls than they did in 2008 – an increase of 12%. Also, the Division now operates with three fewer full-time firefighter/paramedics than authorized at the beginning of the current levy cycle due to the elimination of tangible personal property taxes and a reduction in anticipated property tax revenues due to delinquencies and a slight drop in assessed value.

What will happen if the 2.8 mill levy does not pass?
If the tax issue fails, the steadily increasing cost of providing Fire and EMS service will continue to erode the value of the fixed revenues currently received. This will ultimately necessitate a reduction in services – fewer firefighters, paramedics and older, less reliable equipment. Facility maintenance will decline and fire stations will deteriorate as HVAC and mechanical systems, roofs, and living quarters, are left unrepaired or unimproved. 

When will I get to vote on this issue?
This issue will be placed on the spring primary ballot which is scheduled for March 15, 2016. 

Where and how do I register to vote?
If you are resident of Westerville or Blendon Township and live in Franklin County, go to https://vote.franklincountyohio.gov

If you are resident of Westerville and live in Delaware County, go to http://www.co.delaware.oh.us/boe/

You can find more information on and links to your respective County’s Board of Elections at www.westerville.org/vote.

If I have more questions about this funding request, who can I talk to?
All inquiries can be directed to the attention of Fire Chief Brian Miller at (614) 901-6606 or via e-mail at brian.miller@westerville.org.