Monday, July 21, 2003

Lebanon to ask money for 2nd fire station



By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - For years Roy Merrill has heard fire sirens only from a distance, a reminder that Lebanon has only one fire station serving more than 17,000 residents - and it's far from where he lives.

A homeowner in the Tecumseh subdivision in the southern part of Lebanon, Merrill and other area residents know that their community is one of the farthest from the fire station in Lebanon's central business district.

City leaders are poised to change that with the help of voters in November. On Tuesday night, City Council is expected to approve placing a new fire levy on the fall ballot that would fund construction of a second fire station not far from Merrill's home.

The 5.5-mill levy would replace the 4.5-mill fire levy that expires this year. The 4.5-mill levy has been generating about $1.2 million annually for Lebanon. If voters approve the increase to 5.5 mills, it would bring in an estimated $2 million a year.

Support among council members, who meet at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, is expected to be unanimous.

Merrill is ready to vote for the levy.

"I'd be willing to double my taxes if it guaranteed the safety of my home. Higher taxes don't bother me at all as long as it assures adequate fire protection," he said.

If voters approve a 5.5-mill tax, the annual fire tax for the owner of a $100,000 home would grow from $157 to $192, or an increase of $35 per year.

The levy would pay for a new fire engine and a new fire station near the Ohio State Highway Patrol post off Ohio 48. The new station would be staffed by three firefighter/EMTs around the clock.

The new station would dramatically decrease response time to the city's southern neighborhoods, which at times is as high as 12 minutes, said Lebanon Fire Chief Michael Hannigan. The southern section of the city has a number of large industrial and office complexes off of Fujitec Drive.

"We will be able to cut our response time in half," said Hannigan, who added that if voters do approve the property tax increase the new station, off of Nelson Road, would be up and operating in a year. Construction costs are estimated to be about $863,200.

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E-mail mclark@enquirer.com




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