Columbia Township fire levy may be on fall ballot

Columbia Township fire levy may be on fall ballotColumbia Township residents who live in the Ridge Fire District may be asked to approve a fire levy this fall.

The township’s Board of Trustees will vote Tuesday, May 10, on whether to ask the Hamilton County Auditor to certify how much a 3.4-mill levy would cost homeowners in the Ridge Road-Highland Avenue area annually and how much it would generate for Columbia Township annually.

“This is the first step toward a possible levy in November,” Columbia Township Administrator Michael Lemon said.

“After certification by the auditor, the trustees must decide whether to proceed to place the levy on the ballot and pass a resolution to do so.

“All this must be accomplished 90 days prior to the election,” Lemon said.

Lemon said projections show a shortfall in the Ridge Fire District of more than $120,000 per year over the next five years without an increase in revenue.

“With costs exceeding revenue generated by our current levy, the township is likely to seek a levy to bring costs and revenue into balance,” Lemon said.

Last year Columbia Township had a fire protection contract with the Golf Manor Fire Department for the Ridge Fire District that was due to expire Dec. 31.

“Golf Manor sought a substantial increase and the township sought an alternative provider at a lower cost,” Lemon said.

“Residents of the Ridge Fire District clearly let it be known they wanted to retain the services of the Golf Manor Fire Department despite the fact its costs were higher than an alternative provider.”

The Golf Manor Fire Department has provided fire services to Columbia Township’s Ridge Fire District for more than 60 years.

Columbia Township subsequently approved a three-year contract in which it will pay the Golf Manor Fire Department $355,000 the first year, $360,000 the second year and $370,000 the third year for fire and emergency-medical services in the township’s Ridge Fire District.

The Ridge Fire District includes the Ridge Road and Highland Avenue business district, the Ridgewood subdivision and township streets off Kennedy Avenue.

Other areas of Columbia Township are served by other fire departments and would not be affected by the possible levy under discussion.

The current fire levy millage in the Ridge Fire District is 6.77.