City voters overwhelmingly approve fire levy

EAST LIVERPOOL-City voters have opted to renew an 8-mill fire levy for a five year period.

According to complete but unofficial results from the Columbiana County Board of Elections, the renewal levy passed by a healthy margin of 343 in favor to 131 opposed. The renewal levy will generate $633,000 annually.

“I am very happy that (the levy) passed, appreciate the voters’ confidence in the department, and am humbled that it passed by such a great margin,” East Liverpool City Fire Chief Bill Jones said last night.

The money generated by the levy is used for personnel and the operational budget, Jones previously said, noting it accounts for about 50 percent of the department’s overall budget. Levy failure would have “decimated” the department, Jones said.

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

Jones has said he hopes to hire more than one new firefighter 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.