Linda Eastman was appointed by Bedford Township Trustees to a joint committee consisting of township and Village of Pomeroy residents to discuss issues associated with the fire station and levy. Eastman had several questions regarding the proposal and was given the floor at this week’s meeting of Pomeroy Village Council.
Eastman asked who would own items for the fire station purchased with levy money, if the levy is passed by residents of Bedford Township. She was told the Village of Pomeroy would own those items. The Pomeroy Fire Department applied for the $811,750 grant to build a fire station in Bedford which will be a substation of the fire department and owned by Pomeroy. The grant covers 100 percent of construction costs.
Eastman then asked if all the fire protection levy money would go to the Pomeroy Fire Department when collected and was told yes it would but would be used for the Bedford station, which again, would be a substation of the Pomeroy Fire Department. Pomeroy Fire Chief Rick Blaettnar said the levy money would help supply everything from boots to a fire truck for the substation. Pomeroy resident Dan Morris said he was not aware a fire truck would be purchased and was under the impression a truck paid for by taxpayers in Pomeroy would be parked in Bedford.
Blaettnar said if that happened it would be temporary but if passed, that levy money would finance a truck for the Bedford substation. Morris said after hearing Bedford residents would be paying for their own fire truck to man the Bedford station, he felt better about supporting the proposal. Eastman asked if it was conceivable the Bedford truck would ever be called into Pomeroy on a fire for mutual aid. Blaettnar said he’d been working on at least three response models but didn’t feel he could answer at that time.
Eastman, along with another unidentified township resident, asked why the levy was a continuous three-mill levy for at least 37 years, questioning the necessity after the township had only spent $4,050 in fire calls to Pomeroy in 2008? Eastman said in 20 years, she figured the township had paid the Pomeroy Fire Department $48,000 for fire runs and now, if the levy passed, township residents would be paying $1 million in levy funds in 40 years.
Mayor John Musser said Pomeroy charges the township $150 per call, which he called a bargain, particularly when each time Pomeroy goes into the township it takes a truck which may be worth $1 million with hoses alone that cost $500-600 each, not to mention the expense of other equipment and fuel. Councilman Vic Young questioned how long that fee could remain that “low.” Eastman then asked why that cost had not been adjusted over the years?
An unidentified township resident also asked about Pomeroy’s fire protection levies. Pomeroy has multiple fire protection levies totaling four mills, all of which are five-year renewable levies. The township resident remarked that a 37-year levy seemed excessive to him.
An unidentified firefighter explained the 37-year levy reflected the long-term commitment for Pomeroy to build and man a station in Bedford. Blaettnar agreed and also said a reason why the three-mill-37-year continuous levy was requested was because Bedford doesn’t have the tax base that Pomeroy does. In Pomeroy, with a population of nearly 2,000 and business community, the village has funds from fire protection levies that allow the department to, for example, take out a loan for new fire trucks or equipment. Blaettnar said that tax base does not exist in Bedford and by asking for the 37 year levy, this provides extra security and extra time for the Bedford station to develop, saying in five years the substation will just be moving into what he called the “second phase.” He also said he believed the new substation could get 20 years out of a new fire truck with proper maintenance, maybe 30.
The debate over the fire station was to continue last night at the second of three informational meetings on the proposal with the third and final one scheduled for 7 p.m., Feb. 23 at the Modern Woodmen Hall on Burlingham Road.
The three-mill continuous levy, if passed, will generate approximately $45,963.36 and can only be voted on and paid for by Bedford Township residents.