Saturday, August 2, 2003

Mason fire tax on Tuesday ballot

5-mill replacement levy would raise $4.2M a year

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Five years ago, voters in this Warren County community approved a levy to pay for its own newly created fire department.

On Tuesday, city officials are hoping voters will renew that levy and continue to fund fire and emergency services to this booming suburb.

The 5-mill replacement levy would generate $4.2 million each of the next five years, with collections beginning in January.

The owner of a $100,000 home would have to pay an additional $33 a year.

The levy, which replaces a 5-mill levy passed by voters in 1998, would pay for fire fighting, emergency medical care and accident response as well as other department programs and education.

"Our services have a track record of success," Assistant City Manager Eric Hansen said. "Without the revenue, that would jeopardize those services."

The City of Mason Fire Department formed in 1998 after political differences between Mason and Deerfield Township led to the disbandment of the Mason-Deerfield Joint Fire District. The township also created its own fire department at that time.

Since then, Mason has seen a substantial increase in population, placing more demand on these services. The Mason Fire Department has about 65 full-time and part-time staff members. It operates out of two fire stations, located on Mason-Montgomery Road and Cedar Village Drive.

"That type of investment is ongoing," Hansen said of the fire department.

According to the city, there were a total of 2,114 EMS calls in 2002 - up 175 from the 1,939 calls in 2001. Fire calls, however, were down in 2002, with 1036 calls versus the 1307 the department had received the year before.

There has been little public opposition. For residents such as Matt Kline, supporting the fire department "just makes common sense."

"It's for the future safety of our city," said the father of two. "Without the levy, we would be putting fiscal stresses on our city and city council would have to make some tough decisions."


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