Fire levy forums focus on tax hikes to avoid station shutdowns

West Carrollton is seeking a new fire levy to hire more staff. The 3.9-mill issue - if approved - would add full- and part-time firefighters to address staff shortages that have caused temporary closures to Station 56, seen here, and Station 57. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
West Carrollton is seeking a new fire levy to hire more staff. The 3.9-mill issue - if approved - would add full- and part-time firefighters to address staff shortages that have caused temporary closures to Station 56, seen here, and Station 57. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

A pair of public forums are planned in West Carrollton as part of asking voters to approve a new fire levy on the March 17 ballot.

The Citizens for Fire/EMS Levy Committee is seeking to pass Issue 5, a 3.9-mill, five-year tax hike that aims to hire more firefighters to avoid temporary closings, or brownouts, that West Carrollton officials could make response times double.

The forums will provide information about the proposed levy and give residents an opportunity to ask questions. The dates for the sessions are:

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•Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Carrollton Nazarene Church, 550 S. Elm St.

•March 3 at 7 p.m. at the West Carrollton branch library, 300 E. Central Ave.

If approved, the levy would increase the taxes of owners of homes valued at $100,000 to about $136 a year, according to the city.

The levy is expected to generate about $672,000 per year.

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Issue 5 would fund more full-time firefighters to avoid staff shortages and brownouts at Stations 56 and 57, which have average about 1,600 hours the past several years, according to the city.

Passage would allow West Carrollton to hire four more full-time firefighter/paramedics and “provide a competitive wage and incentive package to attract and retain additional part-time employees,” records show.

Voter approval would also help the city in retaining two firefighter/paramedics hired last year as a short-term move against the brownouts.

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Hiring and retaining both full- and part-time staff has become increasingly difficult since 2016, according to the city. The part-time staff has decreased by half as people are less interested in joining the profession along with the need to seek full-time employment for those currently in their career.

A survey conducted by Wright State University indicated that more than 52 percent of respondents would favor approving a property tax hike in the range of $100 to $125 a year.

When the property tax hike range was increased to $125 to $150 a year, 42 percent said they were likely to support while 49.3 percent said they were unlikely, according to the results.

More than 86 percent of those responding to the survey said they owned homes, a Wright State official said.

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