North Canton (OH) Could Ask Voters to Support New Fire, EMS Levies

The photo shows ambulances parked outside a fire station.
Photo/North Canton Fire/EMS Department

Jessica Holbrook

The Repository, Canton, Ohio

(MCT)

The city has taken the first steps toward asking voters this fall to approve two five-year levies, totaling 5.8 mills, to support fire and EMS operations.

The two levies — a 1.9 mill five-year fire levy and a 3.9 mill five-year EMS levy — would replace the three levies currently supporting those operations. Combined, the two levies would generate about $2.6 million annually.

If both levies are approved, the owner of a property value at $100,000 would pay $183 annually, a $103 increase from what they’re currently paying.

Council on Monday agreed to move forward with legislation that would start the process of putting those levies on the ballot in November.

“In general, we are woefully short,” said City Administrator Patrick DeOrio in a presentation to City Council.

Calls for service and the cost of operating the fire and EMS departments have gone up year after year, but the money generated by current levies has stayed flat, he said.

“We’re going to reach a point where so much of the general fund is being transferred over to maintain these operations, there’s not going to be funds available for the other things the city desperately needs to be doing,” he said.

The city’s fire department is currently supported by a 0.5-mill continuing levy, which has been in place since 2013 and is projected to generate about $187,000 this year.

The city will use about $550,000 from its general fund to support fire operations this year.

EMS is supported by a 1-mill continuing levy, in place since 2013, and a 1.5-mill 5-year levy set to expire this year. Those levies are projected to generate $935,900 this year.

EMS operations will be funded by about $600,000 from the city’s general fund this year. The department also receives about 13% of its funding from ambulance fees.

Over the past 11 years, the city has transferred $7.2 million from the general fund to fire and EMS. That money could have been used to support other projects, said Councilwoman Stephanie Werren, Ward 3.

Neither levy would go toward building a new safety service center.

Council will continue discussing the levies at upcoming meetings.

Other North Canton City County business

Council moved ahead with legislation that would make it easier and less expensive for someone to apply for a zoning map amendment. Council discussed changes to legislation that would modify zoning along the Main Street corridor. The proposed changes will be reviewed by the city’s Planning Commission and be up for a public hearing May 17. Council moved ahead with legislation that would allow water customers outside the city use a payment plan for connection fees. Council moved ahead with legislation that would modify the makeup of the Source Water Protection Committee, changing it from a committee largely filled with city residents to one largely made up of city employees who are responsible for water safety.

UP NEXT: Meeting 7 p.m. Monday held virtually and livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel.

Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or jessica.holbrook@cantonrep.com On Twitter: @jholbrookREP.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: North Canton could ask voters to support new fire, EMS levies this fall

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