Miamisburg, Miami Twp. fire district seeks major levy to change funding system

Voters will decide this fall on a bigger tax levy that could reopen a station, add staff and upgrade equipment

Miamisburg and Miami Twp. residents will vote next month on a permanent, 11-mill property tax levy that would increase revenue for the Miami Valley Fire District and make it self-reliant.

If approved, the measure would eliminate all existing fire-related tax levies in the city and township and replace them with the new 11 mills.

“It’s not an 11-mill on top of what you pay; it’s in lieu of what you pay,” Fire Chief Brandon Barnett told Dayton Daily News.

But costs would go up. If voters approve the levy, the owner of a $100,000 property in either Miamisburg or Miami Twp. would pay $385 annually.

Under the existing funding model, Miami Twp. residents pay an effective property tax rate of 6.44 mills for fire/EMS service annually, meaning the owner of a $100,000 home there pays $225. Approval of the new levy would cost the owner of that property about $160 more a year, according to district records.

Miamisburg residents pay an effective property tax rate of 2.33 mills for fire/EMS service annually, meaning the owner of a $100,000 home there pays $81. Approval of the new levy would cost the owner of that property $304 more a year.

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Approving the levy could also lead the Miami Valley Fire District to reopen Station 51 on Wood Road, which was closed in 2019 to minimize costs in the face of fiscal challenges, Barnett said. To do so, the fire district would need to hire more personnel, he said.

“Right now ... with vacations and injury, leave and sick time and everything else, to keep that station opened (with current staff), we would constantly be calling in overtime, it would be pretty much every single day,” he said. “To hire enough personnel to reopen that station, that’s a big one.”

If the levy is approved, MVFD also would be able to replace aging fire apparatus, including fire engines that are as much as 26 years old and ambulances that are 20 years old. It would also let the fire district replace aging fire gear.

“We have people that are in expired turnout gear, not pants, but like helmets, boots, (so the levy will help ensure) we’re keeping up with that,” he said.

It would also allow the district to upgrade equipment, including replacing manual cots, where EMTs must lift patients of all sizes, to an automatic cot that is battery operated.

“We’re hoping that will lower our injury rate,” he said. “Being firefighters and paramedics doing that all the time, we have a lot of (strains to) knees, backs, hips ... so we’re trying to minimize that as much as we can.”

The Fire District, which has covered both communities for the past decade, had total revenue of nearly $10.1 million in 2021, against expenses of $10.2 million.

If the levy is approved, Fire District revenues in 2023 would be $13.9 million — $12.4 million from the levy and the remaining $1.5 million coming from EMS revenues and grants. Expenses in 2023 are expected to be $12.2 million, with remaining revenue, at least for now, invested in capital improvement projects like repairing or replacing aging fire stations, officials said.

Right now, two Miami Twp. levies that generate nearly $4 million will expire in 2023 and 2026. The township also supports fire services via supplemental funding of $678,000, which is limited and will be depleted by 2023, according to fire district officials.

The fire district also receives a $2.6 million contribution each year from Miamisburg’s general fund, $1.2 million from a Miamisburg tax levy and nearly $1.6 million in EMS fees and other revenues.

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Approval of the fire levy also would free up money in Miamisburg’s general fund — revenue that city council could then decide to use for street paving, putting additional police officers on the street, improving city parks or other areas of need, city officials previously told this news outlet.

Reaction in local online forums has been mixed, with some area voters voicing opposition to something that would increase their tax bill by hundreds of dollars in many cases.

Barnett acknowledged that, but said failing to approve the levy would leave the fire district in a situation that would be “very reactive and not proactive” in numerous areas, including not being able to replace equipment and apparatus on a recommended industry standard, Barnett said.

Public meeting tonight

The Miami Twp. Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday will include a presentation about the fire tax levy from Miami Valley Fire District Chief Brandon Barnett. The meeting is at 6 p.m., at 2700 Lyons Road.

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