Absentee ballots have now been counted in Montgomery County, and voters are overwhelmingly supporting a 2.85-mill levy that will enable the fire department to address a shortage of firefighters and an increasing number of calls for service. A new fire station also is planned. FILE

Washington Twp. fire levy overwhelmingly passes

A new fire station also is planned.

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According to unofficial results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections, 63 percent voted to approve the levy and 37 percent voted “no.”

The levy is expected to generate about $5.26 million in the first year. Homeowners will pay $99.75 per year for every $100,000 of their home’s value — equivalent to $8.31 per month.

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.

After Tuesday night’s victory, the levy will enable the township to replace the department’s oldest fire station, Station 41, at 163 Maple Avenue.

“Station 41 is 50 years old and too small to support adequate staffing and modern apparatus,” said Scott Kujawa, township fire chief. “Because the property it sits on does not provide room for expansion, we’ll be moving it to a new location.

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He added that the the cost of replacing the station is estimated at $3.7 million.

The fire department will be able to address a shortage of firefighters, according to Trustee President Dale Berry.

He said that hourly staffing for a full-time firefighter costs more than twice as much as a part-time firefighter — about $1,090 compared to $469 for a 24-hour period. Salary, medical benefits and earned time off all contribute to the difference.

The part-time shortage has occurred even 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 in the planning stage.

“Hiring additional full-time firefighters is a necessity if we are to maintain service levels,” Berry said.

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