Voters asked to renew fire levy

EAST LIVERPOOL – Voters will be asked in May to renew an 8-mill fire protection levy for a period of five years, and fire Chief William Jones said the levy is crucial to the department’s operation.

Slated to generate $633,000 annually, Jones said the levy actually brought in $549,000 in 2013, which was used for personnel and the operational budget.

If renewed, the levy will not bring about an increase in taxes for city residents, Jones emphasized, noting taxpayers will continue paying the same amount they have for the past 10 years since the levy was first approved.

“Traditionally, it has passed by 70 percent,” Jones said of the issue, adding, “It’s over 50 percent of my budget. If it were to fail, it would decimate our fire department.”

Currently, the city department has 11 firefighters and Jones, with City Council recently earmarking an additional $60,000 toward the hiring of another full-time firefighter.

Jones has said he hopes to hire more than one new fireman which could be possible due to retirements and recent contract negotiations between the city and fire union which resulted in a lower starting salary for new hires.