Washington TownshipMontgomery County, Ohio

New Continuous Fire Levy

New Continuous Fire Levy is on the Spring Ballot
Posted on 02/01/2019

This page is information only & not intended to support or oppose the levy
Fire Levy Brochure contains in-depth information 


New 2.85-mill Continuous Fire & EMS Levy 

What it Addresses
• An increase in emergency incidents
• A shortage of part-time firefighters

What it Funds
• Additional full-time firefighter positions to address a part-time shortage
• A replacement for Station 41
• The continuation of current service levels

 Revenue
• Prevents a negative fund balance by 2023  
• Generates about $5.26 million in the first year 
• Funds about 31% of Fire Department operating expenses. The remainder is provided by a 1.5-mill continuous levy and a 4.65-mill limited-term levy.Levy Cost

Who Votes
All Washington Township residents, including those in the City of Centerville.

The Cost
Homeowners will pay $8.31 per month for every $100,000 of home value, equivalent to $99.75 annually. When estimating the cost for your home, based your estimate on the current valuation.

Trustee Approval
The ballot issue was approved unanimously in January by the Washington Township Board of Trustees. “Hiring additional full-time firefighters is a necessity if we are to maintain service levels,” said Trustee President Dale Berry. 


A Closer Look - What the Levy Addresses

An Increase in Emergency Calls

The past 50 years have seen a virtual explosion in the number of calls for emergency services, with the trend accelerating even more in recent years. Between 2002 and 2012, calls rose by an average of 142 per year. Then from 2012 to 2018, the average annual calls nearly doubled to an increase of 282 calls per year.

Chart of Fire CallsIn total, the number of calls surged from 6,060 in 2012 to 7,751 in 2018 -- an increase of 1,691 or 28%. 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.

A Shortage of Part-Time Firefighters
As emergency calls have surged, staffing has not kept pace. Since 2012, the number of annual runs has increased by 1,691, but part-time staffing has declined. The township has hired 155 part-time firefighters and lost 242.

To attract part-time firefighters, the fire department has waged an aggressive recruitment and retention campaign, including a signing bonus distributed over the first year of employment. But like other departments throughout Ohio, we've lost more part-time firefighters than we've been able to hire because many found full-time employment.

An Aging Fire Station
Station 41 photoAt 50 years of age, Fire Station 41 at 163 Maple Ave. is our community's oldest fire station. When it was constructed in 1969, fire apparatus was significantly smaller and the fire department was comprised mostly of volunteers who responded from home. Today, the station is staffed with up to six firefighters 24 hours a day.


A Closer Look - What the Levy Funds

Additional Full-Time Staff

Facing a shortage of part-time firefighters, the township has no option but to replace them with full-time staff. However, staffing with a full-time firefighter costs more than twice that of 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.

To address the shortage, it's estimated that 42 full-time firefighter positions will need to be funded at an estimated annual net cost of $4.19 million. This includes 12 firefighters hired in 2018, plus 30 additional positions. Funding the positions will bring full-time staff to 78 and daily staffing to about 87% full time.

If the levy does not pass, the fire fund balance will drop to $2.17 million in 2022 and reach a negative balance by 2023.


Cost of Staffing Chart
 
The Cost of Staffing
In 2013, the township projected that 11 full-time and 15 part-time firefighters were needed to provide 24 hours of emergency staffing. Due to the part-time shortage, this now will require 26 full-time and 4 part-time firefighters. A full-time firefighter costs more than twice that of a part-time firefighter. 
 


The Replacement of Station 41

Levy funds will enable the township to replace Station 41 at 163 Maple Ave. with one that supports adequate staffing and larger, modern apparatus. Because the property surrounding Station 41 does not provide room for expansion, the station will be moved. The estimated cost is $3.7 million.


Some History & Background

Why a Levy Now?

When the five-year levy was updated in 2013, it was anticipated that staffing changes would be needed in five years to address two trends: increasing calls and declining part-paid volunteers. In the years that ensured, it became clear that a third trend -- a part-time firefighter shortage -- was creating an additional challenge. However, when the levy came up for renewal in 2018, Chart of Per Capita Coststrustees opted not to raise taxes so that:

  • Taxpayers could retain two state subsidies: a 10% rollback for residential property and 2.5% for owner-occupied residences.
  • Staffing and call trends could be monitored for another year.

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. When the five-year levy was updated in 2013, taxpayers approved a 1.65-mill increase to address the loss of state funding, a permanent loss of revenue caused by a decline in property values, increasing fire runs, and a declining number of part-paid volunteers.

Easing the Burden for Taxpayers

The township actively works to reduce costs and seeks non-taxpayer sources of revenue:
Grants - $425,700 over the past six years.
Regional Dispatch Center - The recent transition to the Montgomery County RDC is expected to save about $500,000 annually in operating costs.
Insurance Billing - In 2018, 11.82% of the fire department's total revenue came from billing insurance providers for emergency transport.

 Allocated Taxes for Incorporated  Allocated Taxes for unincorporated

Washington Township Fire Department protects more taxable property than any department in Montgomery County and is second to Dayton in the population it serves.