Mt. Orab fire levy to return in March

MT. ORAB – The Mt. Orab Village Council held their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening, November 17, and they’ve decided to take another shot at passing an additional Fire and EMS levy.

A levy on the November ballot for additional funding to the Mt. Orab Fire and EMS Department failed by just 11 votes, with 28 people not voting on the issue. At the meeting, village council decided to make changes to a new levy with the hopes of getting it passed come the Ohio primary on March 15.

“We’ve had several people that have told me if they thought it was going to be an issue, they would have worked for it,” Mt. Orab Mayor Bruce Lunsford said. “They want to form a committee to work for the levy, private citizens that will promote it for next time.”

Mt. Orab Fire Department Chief Lisa Reeves agreed with Lunsford, saying that there will be a meeting in two weeks to determine where to go from here.

“We didn’t do a lot of door-to-door campaigning,” Reeves said. “We didn’t do a lot of feet-on-the-ground campaigning. If they [council] choose to run it again, that’s an aspect we’ll have to look at. Maybe we get out there so if people have questions, we can answer them.”

Along with the lack of campaigning, Lunsford noted another potential issue could have been attributed to a misunderstanding of how the levy itself worked.

“I think maybe we just didn’t explain it in enough detail so people understand things,” Lunsford said. “Council is putting it back on. There were people concerned because it was a continuous levy and that made it a permanent levy so council is going to re-run it in March as a five-year levy.”

It’s important to note the levy was not for the fire department itself, but the life squad. According to Lunsford and Reeves, with Mt. Orab’s aging population as well as contracts from nearby townships including Sterling, Pike, and part of Scott, the village’s life squad units have been making more runs than ever before.

“The levy would have been more geared to help the department with the life squad,” Lunsford said. “It would have been used more to improve the squad runs, paramedics, EMTs and replace aging vehicles. We don’t have much issue on the fire side, although it would help with personnel there also.”

The EMS side of the department won’t be hurt too much in the immediate future with the levy failing, thanks to the Mt. Orab Port Authority. On top of a $50,000 donation two weeks ago to the village fire fund, another one-time donation of $75,000 will be made next year due to the failure of the levy. Relying on the Port Authority is not a long-term option, but nonetheless Lunsford is grateful they stepped in.

“Their job is promoting economic development and if you don’t have adequate fire protection it affects that,” Lunsford said. “The donation will offset next year’s operation. It doesn’t replace what the levy would have brought, in but it’s close. We’re thankful for that.”

The levy itself is not officially on the March ballot yet, however. After the Tuesday vote, it was sent to the auditor to determine how much the two-mil proposal will bring in. If the amount is satisfactory, the council will vote on it again at the next meeting.

In addition to dealing with the levy, the village council passed a trio of resolutions Tuesday night.

The first ordinance allowed the village to pay $2,060,000 toward projects related to the construction of the Kroger superstore and the fire station. The second ordinance did the same thing, except instead of Kroger and the fire station it authorized a payment of $380,000 toward the improvement of Brooks-Mallott road. Finally, the third ordinance consolidated the notes the first two ordinances used to pay on principal into one.

Mayor Bruce Lunsford (back-right) and the Mt. Orab village council are attempting to place a fire levy on the March primary ballot. A previous levy failed earlier this month by just 11 votes. Bruce Lunsford (back-right) and the Mt. Orab village council are attempting to place a fire levy on the March primary ballot. A previous levy failed earlier this month by just 11 votes.
Lunsford, Reeves speak out on failed levy

By Garth Shanklin

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter @GNDShanklin.