When German Township voters go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, they won’t have to cast a ballot on the twomill fire levy.
The German Township Trustees voted unanimously to remove the levy from the fall ballots during a special meeting Monday, Oct. 30.
The levy question will still appear on the ballot.
But Keith Short, township fiscal officer, told the trustees that Melanie Gilders, Fulton County Board of Elections director, told him a message would be placed on each voting machine, informing the voter that votes cast for or against the levy will not be counted.
In discussion on the levy question, Kenneth “Skip” Leupp, a trustee, said he had spoken with Annie Hernandez, fiscal supervisor at the Fulton County auditor office. In a later interview, Leupp said he was checking with Hernandez on the amount of money the proposed levy would generate.
The levy has been projected to generate about $372,600, but the recent reappraisal of property values means that figure will change, and possibly increase.
“It’s too much to ask for,” Leupp said during the meeting.
The proposal for the tax levy, authored by Donna Dettling, Archbold village administrator, stated that if the two-mill levy passed, German Township would not collect on two current fire levies– one for one-half (.5) mill and one for six-tenths (.6) mill.
Archbold Village Council would agree to not collect seven-tenths (.7) of the village 3.3-mill operating levy.
Those who own property outside the village but within German Township would have an additional ninetenths (.9) of a mill added to their property tax bills.
Those who own property in the village would benefit from the township and village rollbacks, and would only pay an additional twotenths (.2) mill.
The goal of Dettling’s twomill proposal was to equalize the cost of operating the fire department between village property owners and those in the township but living outside the village.
Village officials say village residents are paying the bulk of the cost of operating AFD.
Ruffer repeated earlier comments, saying if total fire department funding comes from one property tax levy, and a renewal of that levy fails, “you’ve lost the whole thing.”
Ruffer preferred to ask for a one-mill levy while keeping the two older levies.
“I don’t want to see the fire department jeopardized,” he said.
He said he is not sure all voters understand the rollback, or non-collect parts of the proposed levy.
“We want the public to have a clean slate,” Ruffer said.
“I really want to work with the village. It makes common sense to people, based on my observations.”
Bruce Lauber, president of the trustees, said after studying the question, he, too, did not like the vulnerability of obtaining all fire department funds from one levy.
Leupp moved, and Ruffer seconded, a motion to stop the levy.
Dettling attended the meeting. She spoke before the vote.
“Village council is very much committed to the two-mill levy. That has not changed since April, when it was presented,” she said.
“A new two-mill levy could support (the fire department) and create equivalence in the cost-share.
“And the two mills has grown in popularity in village council’s appraisal.”
She told the trustees council has not voted on a motion to not collect .7 mill because there is no agreement in place on the operation of the fire department.
Council, she said, plans to consider the rollback of the village millage.
“We have until Dec. 1 at 4:30 pm. If the two mills doesn’t pass, no problem. If it passes,” council would vote to ask the auditor not to collect the .7.
She said council is considering extending the current fire service operating agreement for one year.
That would give two, and possibly three, new council members the opportunity to have a say in the negotiations.
Dettling said she talked to Brett Kolb, county auditor, who said one option would be to allow the levy to go before voters, and if it passes, the trustees could vote to not collect revenue from the two mills.
Dettling said she agreed there is confusion on the part of voters.
“For the most part, they don’t understand how it works,” she said.
Ruffer told Dettling he appreciated her work and her commitment to her community.
The trustees voted to remove the levy. After further brief discussion, the meeting adjourned.–David Pugh