Tax levy would boost staffing, replace stations for Miami Valley Fire District

District says 11-mill property tax would replace some existing funding streams

Miamisburg and Miami Twp. residents will vote in November on a permanent, 11-mill Miami Valley Fire District levy that would increase revenue and make the district financially self-reliant, according to government leaders.

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, expected Fire District revenues in 2023 would be $13.9 million — $12.4 million from the levy and $1.5 million from EMS revenues and grants, according to Miamisburg Assistant City Manager Emily Christian. Expenses in 2023 are expected to be $12.2 million, she said.

“That’s an increase in staffing and in revenues, and that (additional funding) will allow us to implement a staffing plan so that all five of our stations will be staffed,” Christian said Monday during a joint meeting of Miamisburg City Council and the Miami Twp. Board of Trustees. “It’ll allow the fire district to hire its own administrative staff. It’ll allow us to provide needed and additional training and really to implement the capital plan in equipment and replacement of the (fire) stations, which is entirely necessary.”

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. Approval of the new levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 property $160 more a year.

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

Right now, two Miami Twp. levies generate nearly $4 million, and they are due to 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 Christian’s presentation.

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

All existing fire-related tax levies from both the township and the city will be eliminated if voters approve the new Fire District levy, according to Fire Chief Brandon Barnett.

Approval of the fire levy 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, Miamisburg City Manager Keith Johnson said.

The proposed levy will accomplish two main goals, Christian said in a Fire District memo.

“The first goal is to secure independent and direct funding that will replace current city and township levies and other funds’ contributions,” she said. “This has been a goal since the inception of the district, as is stated in both the comprehensive and successor agreements.”

Secondly, the levy will address the current budget constraints due to shortfalls in revenue. Increasing costs in personnel, services, utilities, maintenance and equipment are no longer sustainable with the current sources of funding, Christian said. Reserves have been budgeted to be used in 2022 to make up the shortfall and will continue in the future if not addressed.

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If the levy is approved, it would allow the Fire District to reopen Station 51 near the Austin Boulevard interchange after three years of brownout-related disuse, Barnett said.

It also would allow the Fire District to replace or at lease overhaul its four other fire stations, most of which were either constructed or remodeled in the 1960s.

“These stations were built for volunteers,” Barnett said. “They weren’t built for people to be here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so they weren’t designed with kitchens, separate sleeping quarters. They’re not ADA-compliant and they don’t have separate gender-neutral showers.”

Other issues are that the station locations don’t reflect the community’s growth patterns or response times, the stations were not built for the size of the equipment they now house and they need “major maintenance,” he said.

Approval of the levy would allow for a 10-year investment in capital of about $15 million, which averages out to $1.5 million annually. That would effectively double what the Fire District is able to invest in capital.

“This will be very, very needed and will allow us to embark on our station replacement project, something that we have really talked about over the years,” Christian said.

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