Macedonia -- The city is expected to ask that voters agree to continue paying a 1-mill fire levy, perhaps as early as the May 7 primary election.

City Council approved an ordinance Jan. 10 requesting that the Summit County Fiscal Office calculate how much the five-year levy would generate annually if renewed, the first step in placing a levy on the ballot.

Finance Director Scott Svab said the levy generates about $397,000 annually. According to the Summit County Fiscal Office, homeowners pay about $31.50 annually per $100,000 in market value.

Council also gave first reading to an ordinance that would place the levy on the May 7 ballot. Mayor Don Kuchta said approval of the renewal will not increase property taxes.

"This is not a new tax," he said. "The money that's generated is dedicated, it's earmarked for the fire department."

"We're mostly funded through income taxes, but it does help in paying for fire personnel and equipment," Fire Chief Tim Black told the News Leader Jan. 14.

The deadline to file an issue for May 7 with the Summit County Board of Elections is Feb. 6.

Voters first approved the levy in August 2008, making this the last year the city will collect on it without a renewal. The levy now generates about $33,000 less than it did prior to 2012 after the Summit County Fiscal Office revaluated properties countywide in 2011. Svab said the department's budget last year was $2.29 million, about $200,000 more than was actually spent.

The city initially placed the levy on the ballot to hire additional full-time firefighters and increase station staffing from three or four firefighters on each shift to five. However, budget cuts in early 2010 forced the department to scale back on part-time hours and the department had to reduce shift staffing back to three or four firefighters. Black said the department now has five firefighters on duty Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and four on the other days.

Svab said city officials considered a levy replacement of about 1.1 mills to bring the revenue it generates back up to where it was before the revaluation, or even higher to increase revenue, but decided that a renewal was more likely to pass.

"We would have a [budget] hole next year without that money," he said.


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