GAHANNA, Ohio – Gahanna voters will see a proposed property tax levy on the March 17 ballot that will support the Mifflin Township Division of Fire’s capital needs for fire, EMS and rescue services. The fire division protects residents of the city of Gahanna and the unincorporated portion of the township.
Issue 17 is a 0.6-mill (six tenths of one mill) capital levy to purchase and maintain firefighting apparatus and ambulances, fire stations, and lifesaving rescue and medical equipment. This levy will also accomplish two other strategic goals: to extend the current 10-year operating levy by two additional years, and to separate operating funds from capital funds in the future.
The levy asks homeowners to pay about $21 a year per $100,000 of home valuation and reflects an important change in budgeting practices. In the past, all major assets, including fleet and facilities, were purchased using operating funds. Operating funds are primarily for firefighter’s salaries and other expenses. This is the first capital-only levy in the history of the fire department and is expected to provide sufficient revenue to maintain the current fleet and facilities for decades.
“Most residents don’t know how much a fire engine or ambulance costs and how often we need to replace them,” said Mifflin Township Fire Chief Dr. Frederick Kauser. “For example, a new fire engine without any equipment costs about $600,000 and is replaced on average every 8-10 years. We currently use funds that would normally be used to maintain staffing levels to purchase apparatus. A dedicated capital fund will eliminate that practice and ensure our fleet is always up to date and available to provide life-saving services to our residents.”
Touting the recent bond rating of AA+ from Standard & Poors Global Ratings - the equivalent of an excellent credit rating for an individual - Mifflin Township Administrator Nancy White said that the township has always operated in a lean, efficient and fiscally responsible manner, even as Gahanna and the surrounding suburbs have grown.
“Public safety equipment simply cannot fail,” White said. “We are talking about critical community assets that the public expects to be properly maintained and replaced on schedule so that it is in good working order each and every time we get a call. Issue 17 will assure that.”
Mifflin Township serves approximately 36,800 residents in the city of Gahanna and more than 4,000 residents in the unincorporated township. The fire division operates from four fire stations, employing 86 firefighter/paramedics, fire marshals, fire prevention and inspection officers and 16 full-time 9-1-1 dispatchers. Mifflin Township firefighters responded to 12,455 calls for fire, EMS and rescue services in 2019.
Mifflin Township Division of Police has also placed a levy on the ballot to be voted on only by residents living in the unincorporated portion of the township in northeast Columbus. The issue asks voters to approve a 3-mill capital levy to fund the police portion only of a new public safety building in the unincorporated area. Support for Issue 16 will cost an average homeowner in unincorporated Mifflin Township approximately $50 a year.
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