Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Sharonville to seek earnings tax increase in May




By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        SHARONVILLE — City administrators this spring will turn to voters in an effort to upgrade staffing of the city fire department.

        Voters on the May ballot will decide whether to raise the city's earnings tax by half a percentage point, to 1.5 percent. It would gener ate about $5.9 million per year in new money.

        The funds, which could go only toward the fire department, would be used to convert the department from a primarily paid-per-call, or volunteer, operation to one that is staffed around the clock with full- and part-time on-station firefighters.

        City and fire officials say it's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the fire department's group of about 55 paid-per-call personnel because of more training requirements and busier lifestyles.

        The department has 10 full-time firefighters who staff a paramedic unit at the Reading Road station around the clock, provide inspections during the daytime hours and help staff two of the department's three stations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

        “It's just continually becoming harder and harder to recruit new people,” Fire Chief Dale Duermit said.

        “For the last few years it has taken almost five to six people a year to come out of (training) to keep our numbers where we want them to be,” he said.

        The new arrangement, if approved, would place firefighters at the department's three stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

        Current volunteers who are interested in continuing with the department and have the required training will be encouraged to apply for the new jobs, the mayor said.

        The change also would de crease the department's response time to emergency calls by about half during evenings and weekends because the personnel who staff fire engines and ambulances would be on-station and would not have to respond to the firehouse from home, the chief said.

       



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