The new Washington Twp. fire chief told Centerville officials a proposed new levy will prevent a deficit in coming years, help add firefighters and allow for a new fire station to be built.
The township provides fire and EMS services for the township and Centerville. City officials invited Washington Twp. Fire Chief Scott Kujawa to speak about the May 7 issue, an additional 2.85-mill continuous levy.
Kujawa was sworn in as the new chief in March, replacing Bill Gaul, who retired after nearly 40 years of service.
Kujawa said the proposed levy, if approved, would generate about $5.26 million in the first year. Homeowners would pay $99.75 per year for every $100,000 of their home’s value — equivalent to $8.31 per month.
“This is new millage,” he said. “All residents in Washington Twp. and Centerville are eligible to vote on the levy.”
The fire department currently is funded with one 4.65-mill renewal levy and one 1.5-mill continuous levy that together cost $169 annually for every $100,000 of home value.
Two of the main issues regarding the levy, according to Kujawa, are staffing and construction of a fire station.
The levy will enable the township to replace the department’s oldest fire station, Station 41 at 163 Maple Avenue. The cost of replacing the station is estimated at $3.7 million.
Councilman Mark Engert asked if fire department officials have an idea of where the new fire station would be located. He said many residents have voiced concerns about closing Station 41, which he said is centrally located and close to most of the schools and landmarks in the city.
“We are going to ask the voters to vote on a new fire station, but we don’t know where it is to be?” Engert asked. “Station 41 is centrally located and is within one or two minutes of every school building with the exception of Magsig Middle School. Is the fire station going to move further away from the school district?”
Kujawa said various locations are being evaluated.
“We have not narrowed it down to one specific location at this time,” the chief said.
“We are doing our due diligence to assure that we put the station in the proper location,” Kujawa said, noting that officials are doing that “through mapping, call data analysis and evaluation of all that information.”
He said that the limited size of the property that Station 41 sits on prohibits the fire department from expanding operations there.
“Unfortunately, that property is just too small to do anything with,” Kujawa said.
He said the department also needs more firefighters. A part-time shortage has occurred as the number of fire and emergency medical runs has climbed — from 6,060 in 2012 to 7,751 in 2018.
Much of the increase is fueled by new construction. Throughout Centerville/Washington Twp., 629 homes, 865 apartment units and 368 senior living units were either constructed in 2018 or are in the planning stage.
Passage of the levy will help the department pay for 12 additional firefighters hired in 2018 and add 30 more full-time positions at an estimated annual net cost of $4.19 million.
If the levy does not pass, Kujawa said the fire fund balance will drop to $2.17 million in 2022 and reach a deficit by 2023.
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