MT. ORAB – Voters in the Village of Mt. Orab and Sterling Township are faced with a EMS and fire levy on the ballot for the March 15 primary election.
During last year general election, the levy for an additional two mills failed by a vote of 403-413 but is back on the ballot.
The Village is seeking an additional two mil levy for the benefit of EMS, ambulance and fire protection service for a period of five years. Contrary to popular belief a two mill levy is not $2 million but a simple addition to the current assessed value of your property. According to the Village a two mill levy would increase the property tax of an owner by $70 per every $100,000 in valuation. The Village estimates that the levy would add $108,000 for emergencies services to the Village coffers.
“Some people get confused and think a two mill levy is going to bring in two million dollars,” Mt. Orab Mayor Bruce Lunsford said. “That’s not the case by any means. On the brochures we put out we tried to explain what a mill brings in.”
The Village of Mt. Orab produced literature to help explain to voters what they levy they are seeking would actually cost.
Currently the Village has a three mill levy that was passed in 2001, but this levy would be additional to supplement emergency services. The current three mill levy provided 132,883 in income in 2015 up slightly from 2003 where the levy added $125,052. The levy has added just $7,831 over the 12 year period.
Supporters of the levy are asking voters to consider the growth of Mt. Orab during the 12 year period and the new number of people relying on emergency services from the Village of Mt. Orab. Last year the Village of Mt. Orab responded to 1,668 calls of which 635 occurred within the corporation limits of the Village.
“We have worked very hard to maintain a good fire department and life squad,” Lunsford said. “We have to be able to maintain that and provide the service they become accustomed to.”
Lunsford said the Village wants to keep their rating high so that savings for having adequate fire protection can help reduce the cost of insurance on homeowners. Lunsford said he thought the increase in insurance would far exceed total amount sought in the protection levy from the Village.
In addition to Mt. Orab emergency services levy, Sterling township, in which the Village is located, also had a levy on the ballot for emergencies services. The emergency service levy will replace the levy that has been in existence since 2001. The township is asking again for a three mill levy.
In November 2015, the Sterling Township emergency levy on the ballot failed by two votes 455-457.
The difference this time, instead of a continuing levy it is a replacement levy. According to Brown County Auditor Jill Hall the replacement levy differs from a continuing levy by taxing the current assessed value whereas a continuing levy keeps the levy at the valuation of when the levy passed.
The current Sterling Township three mill levy is only collecting at 1.9 mills because of changes in valuation. Hall estimated with a replacement levy the Township would be responsible for $50,000 more than what is currently being taken in.
Literature passed out by the supporters of the levy said that if the levy is voted down, residents of Sterling Township will be without fire or emergency service protection. The Township would have no funds for to pay for services that are currently contracted to the Village of Mt. Orab.
Additionally with no contract in place for services the Township also loses mutual aid from neighboring departments by saying neighboring departments are not obligated to respond to calls for service in Sterling Township.
Township residents could also see an increase in their homeowners insurance or renters insurance if adequate fire protection is not available to Sterling Township.