ELECTION 2020: Q&A on fire, EMS levies on the ballot

We asked Blake Nussbaum II, East Wayne Fire District chairman, these questions via email based on questions we had and questions posed in recent Letters to the Editor.

1. Who will see the East Wayne Fire District fire/ EMS levy on their ballots in November?
a. Citizens of Dalton and Marshallville will see the EWFD levy on their ballots.

There will be three separate ballots; in summary, if you are serviced by EWFD you will see 2.9 mill, if you are serviced by KVFD or OFD you will see 1.5 mill.

b. Southern Sugar Creek- which is residents covered by KVFD and OFD at 1.5 mill

c. Northern Sugar Creek – which is residents covered by EWFD in the unincorporated area of Sugar Creek Township at 2.9 mill

d. EWFD – which is residents covered by EWFD within the villages of Dalton and Marshallville at 2.9 mill

i. It is important to note that the current 1 mill levy in Sugar Creek Township final collection is in 2020.

1. The levies on the ballot in November of 2020 are for two year terms collecting in 2021 and 2022. If the levy has the positive expected impact, EWFD will be back on the May 2022 ballot for voter approval.

2. The plan is to demonstrate how stable funding helps in developing operating cost plans and staffing consistency. This will set the future up for a possible long term levy solution.

a. One may ask, why has EWFD not been able to build a budget in the past? During the last several years with the turmoil and litigation unsettled, it was uncertain year to year what revenue would be generated. Now for the first time a budget can be created and accountability to citizens to ensure that money is spent wisely. (outlined below)

High Level Operating Plan
Expected Income 2021 (rounded)
Dalton Village: $72,000
EWFD Levy: $147,000
SCT North Levy: $125,000
EWFD EMS Billing:$65,000
Total: $409,000
Estimated operating cost
(Multi- year average used based on actual costs with a
10% reduction goal to establish the 216K): $216,900
Estimated Capital $ –
Money remaining for staffing: $192,000
Minimum paid hours for staffing: 8,600

2. How much money will be generated by the proposed levy per year?

a. Southern Sugar Creek rounded – $106,000
b. Northern Sugar Creek rounded – $125,000
c. EWFD rounded – $147,000

3. How will the money be used?

a. The money will be used to pay operation costs with the remainder for staffing.

4. If this levy passes, does that mean staffing at Station 1 and Station 2 and during which times?

a. Staffing is the main focus in which the levy money will be spent. As 2.9 mills does not cover 24 hours per day staffing, the hours will be spread over both stations with priority on daytime staffing during school hours.

5. How will this differ compared to staffing in 2019 and 2020? Will there be more funds available for paid staffing if the levy passes compared to the staffing grant?

a. The $192,000 earmarked for staffing will help secure staffing during times of day when volunteers are typically not available.

b. The federal full time SAFER staffing grant provided $324,000 for staffing per year.
The current 2.9 mill levy provides $192,000 or 59% of the total Safer grant. Keep in mind that the capital budget is zero for the next two years, purposefully at zero, the decision to spend on staffing is more important, but capital will be allocated in the future. The 2.9 mill levy will provide for a base structure for operational and staffing expenses.

6. A letter to the editor stated the cost to operate the Marshallville station in 2019 was more than $70,000, and claims only $28,000 will be generated from a 2.9-mill levy. Are these numbers accurate and how will the difference in cost be covered?

a. The EWFD is one entity sharing manpower and equipment that should not be separated out as each station supports the other. Only utilities, building maintenance, truck maintenance, and insurance can be accurately lined itemed, which that cost is under Station Two’s 2.9 millage income. In my opinion, he did an excellent job in illustrating how expensive and difficult it is to operate a small fire station.

b. $28,000 is accurate per how much the Village of Marshallville will generate with a 2.9 mil levy per year. Fire and EMS protection is exactly like insurance, pay into a pool of money with more people equaling lower upfront costs in hope that you never need to use the service, but if needed, the service is available.

7. Does the EWFD board plan to continue paying the fire chief $45,000/ year? Is the fire chief a full-time paid position?

a. The Fire chief for 2019 $45,000 detailed:
i. $5,000 stipend for Chief position
ii. $15,000 Grant Coordinator and Manager paid from Federal grant. This required 15-18 hours per week
iii. $25,000 Running calls above and beyond other du-ties, this pay per call applied to all EWFD members

b. Moving forward the pay structure will not include stipends for any position. A pay by the hour with increases for certification, rank and responsibility will be used. In this manner like any business, the employee will be paid for the amount of hours worked.

Please be aware that staffing EWFD will not be as simple as turning on a light switch. EWFD is making plans to staff on the assumption the levies pass, but cannot hire anyone until after the election. Therefore staffing will have to be set up early in 2021.

Please visit the Wayne County Auditor’s website to view the specific levy impact by parcel.

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