Defeat of August Paramedic Levy Could Shrink Fire Department by 27%
Voters will likely see paramedic levy in August
Saying it’s “very, very important” that an August paramedic levy passes, Avon Lake City Council approved a motion Jan. 9 that would allow the county to determine how much money would be raised for that levy.
Council previously considered a special May levy.
Councilman Larry Meiners said that a defeat of the levy, which has been in place since 1977, could result in the loss of eight firefighters, approximately one-quarter of the 29-person force. The paramedic levy supports eight firefighters, a dispatcher and support items, including vehicles.
The city will review three options: a 1.25-mill replacement levy, a 1.25 renewal levy and a 1.5-mill replacement levy. The amount of the replacement and renewal levy are not expected to be the same since the replacement levy will be based on the most recent valuation of property assessments. The renewal is based on the valuation of the previous property assessments.
“(Council) will decide what is the best way to go,” Councilman Larry Meiners said. “It’s going to be an open process. This is a very, very serious issue. The money we have in this fund supports eight firefighters.”
“If this fails Aug. 7, then Avon Lake will face the loss of 25 to 30 percent of the manpower,” Meiners said.
Avon Lake Fire Chief Glen Eisenhardt addressed council and said the fire department runs were up 9 percent over last year, with only 12 percent of those calls being fire related and the balance being for paramedic runs.
“The average age of the patient is 64,” Eisenhardt said.
Mayor Greg Zilka said that as the council president last year, the thought in the state of Ohio was that there would be a June primary.
“A few weeks later (Columbus officials) eliminated the June Primary,” Zilka said. “We have no choice here. This is too important issue to roll the dice (with one election).”
The deadline to put the issue on for the March primary was Dec. 7; too late for the city to take the measures needed to put an issue on that ballot.
Zilka said it was the first of many steps that will be taken before a decision is made on what option to present to voters in August.
If the issue fails in August, the city will have to file for the November election the day after the election, on Aug. 8.
Eisenhardt said he appreciated the August election that would allow a “second chance” in November if the August levy failed.
In May 2009, voters approved a 1.25-mill, three-year with a 75 percent approval. The levy resulted in a tax increase of $8.45 per $100,000 of home valuation.