MECHANICSBURG – Despite concerns over EMS staffing issues, Village Council on Monday passed a resolution placing a 5-year, 2.5-mill levy for the replacement of fire and EMS vehicles on the November ballot. If passed, the levy is anticipated to generate a yearly revenue of $42,600.
Prior to passing the measure by a 4-0 vote (council members Christian Bradford and Bill Farley were absent), Council member Jodi Compton said residents have approached her in regard to Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS having to rely on mutual aid to handle local EMS runs due to a personnel shortage.
“I really think we need to step up our hiring a little bit,” she said. “(Voters) aren’t going to pass a levy to buy new vehicles if there’s nobody to staff those vehicles.”
Assistant Fire Chief/EMS Chief Steve Castle responded to Compton’s concerns by stating, “There is a very active and ongoing effort to try to address the issue. We aren’t dragging our feet. It just doesn’t happen over night.”
Castle added three EMS personnel have been added to the roster recently, and as for coverage for the rest of the month, he said, “We have a few open shifts, but for the most part, we’ve been able to cover the need.”
In regard to the levy, council has discussed at length for several months the current state of the village’s two squads.
In January, Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS was forced to borrow a loaner squad from Madison County after both of the department’s squads – a 1995 International and a 1999 Ford – were out of service with mechanical issues.
While the International is up and running, the Ford remains out of service with engine and wiring issues.
Change made to permissive tax usage
Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis said late last week, she was informed a resolution was passed by the Champaign County Commissioners stating that permissive tax money can be used on any road within any municipality.
In April, Mayor Greg Kimball informed council the village had been made aware, through a letter from county Engineer Stephen McCall, that its permissive tax account through the county had a cash balance of $120,000. When researching the account, Kimball learned the village receives between $5,000 to $8,000 a year through the vehicle registration permissive tax, an optional tax that can levied by counties and/or taxing districts on vehicle registrations.
“There are restrictions as to what this can be used for,” he said during the April 6 council meeting. “It can only be used on three streets (Parkview Road, Walnut Street and Pleasant Street) in our town, because it can only be used on streets that connect state highways.”
Despite the commissioners’ decision to allow the tax money to be used on any road within the village, Huggins-Davis said, the biggest areas of concern just happen to be located on the three streets originally labeled as the only ones eligible to be repaired through permissive tax dollars. She said the three areas of roadway in most need of repair are the top of Parkview Road by the the Certified Oil station, the bottom of Walnut Street, and a part of Pleasant Street that lies beneath a stretch of trees.
“We are working on getting estimates on what it would cost to fix those areas, and we will see if we can get away with using just $50,000 or $60,000 of that $120,000,” she said, adding the plan is to retain as much of the permissive tax dollars as possible in hopes of leveraging it in order to obtain a grant next year for a larger street project.
In other business:
•Village employees are continuing to patch potholes using cold patch asphalt.
“We are concentrating on the streets first, and we will try to get to the alleys as soon as we can,” Huggins-Davis said. “They’ve been having good luck with (the cold patch) staying in.”
•State Route 4 from Maple Grove Road (cemetery road) to Catawba-Mechanicsburg Road will be closed from June 22-26 while the Ohio Department of Transportation works on a culvert near the railroad tracks.
•Council heard the second reading of an ordinance to adopt the village’s tax budget for fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
Before council votes on the measure following a third reading, village residents will have the opportunity to discuss the tax budget during a public hearing set for 6 p.m. on July 6 at the municipal building.