MTFR seeks operating levy renewal
- Published: March 16, 2020
Among the ballot issues local voters will decide Tuesday, March 17, is a 3.8-mill renewal levy for Miami Township Fire-Rescue operations.
The local fire department provides fire and emergency medical services to the approximately 7,500 residents and more than one million annual visitors to Miami Township, eastern Bath Township, Yellow Springs and Clifton, according to information provided by the Miami Township Firefighters’ Association.
The levy, which has been in place for at least 25 years, generates about $580,000 a year, according to fire department Chief Colin Altman. It costs property owners about $116 a year for every $100,000 assessed home and property valuation, according to past News reports.
“This is the bulk of the money that pays for everything,” Altman said in a phone interview this week.
“This is the fuel, this is the supplies, this is everything. Without this levy, we would have to lay off staff,” he said.
The operating levy is separate from the 2.4-mill, 30-year bond levy passed in 2017 to fund construction of the department’s new firehouse, which is currently going up at 1001 Xenia Ave., on the south side of town. That levy costs property owners about $84 per $100,000 assessed valuation.
Miami Township Fire-Rescue, or MTFR, is a “combination” department in that it is comprised of full- and part-time paid staff along with a roster of volunteers, all of whom receive professional firefighting and emergency medical training.
Current staffing includes six full-time, eight part-time and 17 volunteer crew members. At least two crew members are on duty at all times at the long-time station on Corry Street.
More volunteers are needed, but increasingly difficult to find, Altman said. The department recently spent $2,600 on a mass mailing advertising a recruitment open house that resulted in only two additional volunteers. And the fewer the number of volunteers, the more money is needed to hire paid personnel to adequately respond to local emergencies, the chief added.
According to the local firefighters association records, MTFR responded to 1,259 emergencies in 2019, a department record that marked a 17% increase over the year before.
Medical emergencies make up 78% of the calls, according to department records.
The department maintains two paramedic ambulances, two fire engines, a special response team and technical rescue vehicle, a water tanker and brush truck.
The operating levy helps keep the equipment running, Chief Altman said.
Revenue from the operating levy is supplemented annually by $100,000 in emergency medical service billing and $110,000 from a contract with Bath Township to provide full services on the eastern side of the neighboring township.
“We do our very best to keep our costs contained and stay within our budget,” Altman said.
The 3.8-mill operating levy was last renewed in 2014 by 75% of the vote.