By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LEBANON - With fire emergency runs increasing each year, city officials say it's time for a new fire station.
But first, they plan to ask residents what they think.
Since 1999, there has been a 32 percent increase in fire runs in Lebanon, and city leaders are quick to point out there has not been any corresponding increase in the number of fire stations in this growing Warren County city.
There still remains only one fire station for the more than 17,000 Lebanon residents, and that's not enough, city council members say.
They are floating the idea of putting a 5.5-mill property tax increase on the fall ballot to fund the building of another fire station near the city's southern neighborhoods off Ohio 48.
City officials will hold a public hearing on whether to ask voters for a renewal of the current 4.5-mill levy or increase it to 5.5 mills.
The public meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. July 8 at Lebanon's city hall.
If council goes with putting the 5.5-mill property tax issue on the ballot, then voter approval would raise the annual fire tax bill for the owner of a $100,000 home from $157.50 to $192.50, or an increase of $35 per year.
The time it takes firefighters to travel from the city's main firehouse downtown to the southern part of the city is too long for Lebanon Fire Division Captain Krista Wyatt.
"We can't fight time, and time is our enemy when we respond to that area," said Wyatt of the largely industrial and commercial properties in the city's southern sector. "We've been lucky so far in that we've been able to provide good service."
A 5.5-mill levy, which council is leaning toward, would also allow the fire department to increase its full-time firefighters from two to four. And it would facilitate the purchase of a new fire truck, as well as pay for the building of a new station next to the Ohio State Patrol headquarters off Lebanon Road at Ohio 48.
The Lebanon fire department now uses 48 part-time firefighters.
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