2017-04-19 / Front Page

Fire Department Compromise Discussed By Village Council

Jeff Fryman, Archbold mayor, said the only way he can support a proposed twomill tax levy for fire protection is if other tax revenue is rolled back.

Fryman spoke during the Monday, April 17 village council meeting, when a proposed two-mill firefighting property tax levy to operate the Archbold Fire Department was discussed.

Donna Dettling, village administrator, discussed the proposal with the German Township Trustees during their March 10 meeting.

The highlights of the proposal:

•The German Township Trustees would continue to maintain ownership of the current fire equipment. As equipment is retired, it is replaced with equipment owned by the village.

•The trustees agree to turn over financial management of the Archbold Fire Department plus levy revenue and firefighting fund balances.

•A committee of both council and the trustees will be established to review the financial operation of the fire department once a year.

Two Mills

The proposal calls for a new, two-mill property tax levy to be put on the ballot for German Township.

Property owners inside and outside the village limits in the township will pay the same amount for the fire service property tax levy.

The trustees can request the Fulton County Budget Commission to not collect the current two fire levies: a onehalf (.5) mill and a six-tenths (.6) mill, or 1.1 mills total.

The request must be filed by Oct. 1, 2017.

It would be contingent upon the two-mill levy passing during the Nov. 7 general election.

Dettling suggested the village could ask for the rollback of a portion of the 3.3-mill property tax levy the village receives from property owners within the village.

Currently, she estimates 1.5 mills of the 3.3 mills charged to property owners goes to run the village share of the fire department.

Decades ago, the village agreed to pay firefighter wages and build and maintain fire stations.

The trustees are responsible for purchasing and maintaining equipment.

Dettling said currently, village property owners not only pay 1.5 mills to operate AFD, they also pay the 1.1 mills charged by the township, so a property owner inside the village pays a total of 2.6 mills.

A person with property outside the village only pays the 1.1 mills from the two township levies.

“The only way I would support this is if we rollback the village millage,” Fryman said.

“We told the village we would roll that back. They’re paying 1.1 (mills) now. If we go after two, that’s nine-tenths more. They’re already paying more. They always have.”

A rollback of six-tenths (.6) of a mill of the village property tax levy was discussed.

Vaughn Bentz, councilman, asked if the figure was set in stone.

Dettling said if additional money wasn’t needed, more could be rolled back and not collected.

Support

Dettling said as the proposal was discussed, she received support from Bruce Lauber, president of the trustees. She added she feels Randy Ruffer and Skip Leupp, township trustees, are buying into the idea, as well.

Morton said he believes the number of homes in the township outside the village, not associated with farms, exceeds farms by a 4-1 or a 5-1 ratio.

That, he said, tempers the resistance of Ruffer, who was concerned about protecting farmers in the township.

Fryman asked if there would be an agreement stating the trustees will roll back the 1.1 mills.

“We can’t make them do that. We’re going on their word,” said Kevin Morton, a councilman.

“It would be in the agree- ment,” Dettling said.

“We want some kind of guarantee they will roll back the 1.1,” Fryman said.

Pass One-Half Mill

Township voters are being asked to renew the halfmill (.5) levy for five years in the Tuesday, May 2 Special Election ballot.

Annie Hernandez, fiscal supervisor for the Fulton County Auditor Office, said the levy raises about $85,700 each year.

Because property tax levies are not allowed to grow as property values rise, the millage charged to property owners is reduced.

The half-mill levy is currently charged to agricultural and residential property owners at .438868 mills, Hernandez said.

For the owner of a home in German Township with a market value of $100,000– inside or outside the village– the yearly cost of the levy is $15.36.

After a 2.5% reduction for an owner-occupied home and a 10% reduction for a non-business property, the yearly charge is $13.44.

Lauber and Dettling agree: passage of the renewal is vital to the operation of the fire department.

“Both parties (council and trustees) are in agreement. Passage of the renewal is important,” Dettling said.

“We need the money to continue at the rate we’re going,” Lauber said.

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