The proposed two-mill levy for fire protection, with accompanying rollbacks to equalize the amount paid between German Township residents inside the village limits and outside, could be in jeopardy.
At their Monday, Oct. 23 meeting, the German Township Trustees set Monday, Oct. 30, 7 pm, for a special meeting to further discuss the levy.
The topic is whether or not to ask the Board of Elections to not count the votes cast for or against it, essentially killing the levy.
Currently, the township has two property tax levies, one for one-half (.5) mill, and one for six-tenths (.6) mill. Property owners in German Township– both inside and outside the village of Archbold– pay those taxes.
Village officials say they put additional money from the village general fund toward the fire department.
Village officials contend that Archbold property owners pay both the township millages and the village 3.3- mill general revenue levy.
The amount from the general fund, village officials say, is equal to seven-tenths (.7) mill.
Under a proposal developed by village officials, the German Township trustees put a two-mill fire protection levy on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Then the trustees would agree to not collect their two levies.
The village would agree to not collect .7 of its 3.3 mills.
The trustees previously voted to put the two-mill levy on the ballot, and passed a resolution asking the county auditor to stop collecting the 1.1 mills from the current fire levies if it passes.
The trustees questioned whether Archbold Village Council supports the two mills.
“If they aren’t going to support it, I don’t see a need for it,” said Bruce Lauber, president of the trustees.
“I really don’t either,” said Skip Leupp, a trustee.
“There’s just a lot of things they don’t like about it. I would rather have it more fine-tuned before we went in front of the voters.”
As the trustees were meeting, so was Archbold Village Council, and council affirmed its support of the two mills.
At the same time, council did not take action to pass a resolution to ask the county auditor not to collect the .7 mill if the two-mill levy passes.
Kenny Cowell, a councilman, was absent.
Kevin Eicher, a councilman, said council should wait until Cowell is available to vote on the non-collect resolution.
“It wouldn’t be fair to vote on this without him,” Eicher said.
During the council meeting, Vaughn Bentz, a council member, questioned whether council’s failure to pass the non-collect resolution would influence the passage of the two mills.
“People might be less likely to vote for the two mills,” Bentz said.
Jeff Fryman, mayor, said, “I hear some of that anyway.”
“It may be worthwhile for the public to understand whether you do or you do not support the two mills. I think that’s important,” said Donna Dettling, village administrator.
“Either this board does, or it doesn’t. I don’t know if adopting this one way or the other tells them that,” she said.
“We’ve told them in every agreement we will support the two-mill levy, no matter what,” Fryman said.
“We really have until Nov. 20 to pass this (the non-collect resolution).
“Whenever we pass it, it will be certified with the election (results) on Nov. 28. So whatever council wants to do– we can pass it tonight if you want, and rescind it, or we could hold off and wait until after the election, which would be the direction I would propose we take.”
The non-collect resolution passed by German Town- ship, and the one being considered by council, include contingencies that direct the auditor to continue collections of the current levies if the two-mill levy fails.
The Ruffer Proposal
While council was reaffirming its support for the two mills, Randy Ruffer, a trustee, was criticizing the two-mill proposal.
“First of all, I don’t think two mills is a good idea. We’re putting all our eggs in one basket. If it passes this time and the next time it doesn’t, we’re sitting in a really bad way,” he said.
“I’d rather, if we’re going to change the millage, I’d rather go for a one mill, keep the .5, keep the .6, so that if the one mill doesn’t pass or the .5 doesn’t pass, you’re not dead in the water. You’re going to have some millage always there for you.
“Second of all, I have not heard one person, not one, who is complaining that they’re paying too much for fire protection.
“So I’m not sure this is as big an issue as they’re making it or we’re making it or whatever.
“I’m more for just, let’s back off and wait until heads cool a little bit, then we can sit down and talk about this a little more, have a little more discussion about where this is coming from, where moneys are coming from.”
Leupp said he wanted more detail on where money would be spent under the proposed two-mill levy.
“We have to keep apparatus and wages separate. I don’t like throwing them all together… I don’t want a blanket levy,” Leupp said.
Annie Hernandez, fiscal supervisor for the Fulton County Auditor Office, said if the two-mill levy passes, German Township property owners, whether they live inside the village limits or outside, would pay two mills for fire protection.
The levy would generate approximately $372,594 each year and would cost the owner of a home with a $100,000 market value roughly $70 per year.
Property owners currently pay $34 on the two current property tax levies.
If the two-mill levy passes, and the trustees and council agree to not collect current amounts, those who own property outside the village would pay an additional nine-tenths (.9) mill.
Property owners in the village would pay an additional two-tenths (.2) mill.