Currently, the fire department budget is supplemented by a 3.2 mil levy passed in 2017. While the residents of North College Hill overwhelmingly supported this effort, not all operational needs were fully funded. In 2019, a subsequent effort to address these critical needs by partnering with Mt Healthy to form a Joint Fire District was voted down by the voters of both communities, who voiced overwhelmingly their desire to retain their own fire departments. Mt Healthy voters subsequently approved a levy adding 12.9 mils to their existing 5 mil permanent levy in 2020.
In light of continued service delivery issues and projected shortfalls in general fund revenue affecting the fire budget, the mayor formed a task force to explore options to address these concerns in early 2020. Based on the research and recommendations of the task force, city council concluded a fire levy was the only fix and unanimously voted to place it on the general election ballot (Resolution 17-2020).
A reduction in tax sharing from the state of Ohio; lack of economic growth, rising demands for service, increasing employee costs, medical supplies and equipment; and an aging fire station in dire need of repairs are just a few of the reasons this additional revenue is needed to maintain current fire and emergency service operational levels.
How Will The Levy Funds Benefit You And The Fire Department?
- The funds will be used to sustain the current operations
- Fund 9 full-time firefighter/paramedic/EMT positions (6 additional)
- Ensure that 2 adequately staffed and equipped paramedic ambulances are available to respond to your emergencies
- Improve safety throughout our community
- Reduced response times
- Meet the emergency safety needs of a diverse community
Why Do We Need 9 Full-Time Firefighter/Paramedics/EMT's?
The current funding and staffing model for the Fire Department is based mostly on part-time firefighter/paramedic/EMT's. Due to circumstances affecting our industry as a whole the pool of available part-time firefighters has decreased despite an aggressive recruitment campaign. Facing a shortage of part-time firefighter/paramedic/EMT's the city has no option but to hire additional full-time firefighter/paramedic/EMT's to accompany the part-time personnel. Without an adequate staff of both full and part-time firefighter/paramedics/EMT's the department has been forced to ‘brownout’ an ambulance and/or the entire station in some instances thereby hindering service to the community.
What Is A "Brownout"?
A brownout occurs when there are not enough firefighter/paramedic/EMT's available to fully staff a given shift. This situation necessitates the "brownout" or non-use of fire apparatus, ambulance units or a fire station. This is a temporary reduction in our daily firefighting and emergency response force as there are fewer fire/EMS personnel available to respond to emergency requests for service.
Who Is Affected By A "Brownout"?
Any person in an emergency situation could be impacted by a brownout. If our units are ‘browned-out’ another crew from a neighboring jurisdiction must be called. As a result, response times could double as other crews respond to the emergency.
What Will Happen If The Levy Passes?
Voter passage of the 12-mill fire levy will allow the hiring of 6 additional full-time firefighter/paramedic/EMT's. Additionally, it will provide a competitive wage and incentive package to attract and retain additional part-time personnel. Passage also assists the city in retaining the three full-time firefighter/paramedics hired in 2018. These new hires will yield fully staffed fire stations and ultimately a substantial reduction in the frequency of brownouts. The selection process for full-time firefighter/paramedic/EMT's would begin in early 2022 with the expectation of appointments in the spring of 2022 when funding will become available.
When discussing the cost of a proposed levy, we often see the phrase "Based on $100,000 market value". Many believe this to be the current market value - the amount you can probably get when you sell your home. But real estate taxes are based on the Auditor's "Total Market Value", which is the value of the land plus the value of the improvements (i.e. house, garage, pool, etc.) to the land. This is almost always less than the current market value.
In North College Hill, the average Auditor's Total Market Value for a single-family home is approximately $66,600. Less than 7% of the single-family homes in North College Hill have an Auditor's Total Market Value of $100k or more.
Taxes are officially calculated on the "Assessed Value" which is approximately 35% of the Auditor's Total Market Value.
Even though the new levy is for 12 mills, property owners will not see an increase of that amount as the current fire levy of 3.2 mills goes away, meaning the additional levy will increase taxes by only 8.8 mills.
What does that mean in dollars and cents? The correct way to calculate the property tax is to multiply the millage rate by the property's ASSESSED value (as shown on the Auditor's website) and divide by 1,000. So that you don't need to do the calculation we have created a spreadsheet from the Auditor's data to help you see the approximate cost for any specific address due to the new levy.