Brimfield Fire places EMS levy on May ballot to update aging equipment

Grace Murray

The Brimfield Fire Department is asking voters to approve a renewal to its 2009 emergency medical services levy with the addition of extra millage.

Brimfield’s Issue 12, which will appear on the May ballot, carries the expiring .85-mill levy plus another .85 mill – totaling 1.7 mills – to replace an outdated ambulance as well as other equipment including cardiac monitors.

Assistant Fire Chief Craig Mullaly said for those with a home valued at $100,000, the levy would cost $29.75 per year or  $2.48 per month.

“We’re asking for the bare minimum,” Mullaly said. “We’ve cut back, and we really don’t want to have to ask the taxpayers who are constantly being hit with more levies. But we need a new ambulance and cardiac monitors.”

The fire department is operating with two dated ambulances –10 and 8 years old. Mullaly said this puts the department behind in terms of the latest equipment that is consistently being updated by those in the medical field.  

He also added, the extra millage tacked on to the five-year renewal levy is a result of rising costs in the market.

“Daily costs have gone up,” Mullaly said, “and that doesn’t include all of the equipment we have to have. When we purchased it before, a med unit cost $140,000. Now the same med unit costs $210,000. It’s the same with every other piece of equipment. It just keeps going up and the levy is the only way we’re going to be able to afford to update it all.”

The 2009 EMS levy took two rounds on the ballot to be passed, according to official election results provided by the Portage County Board of Elections.

The first time it appeared on the ballot in November 2008, it failed with 50.13 percent opposed and 49.87 in favor, with 13 votes separating the final outcome. When the department asked voters again to approve the levy in May 2009, it passed with 56.69 percent in favor.

Nancy Rodd, treasurer for the levy, said she’s hopeful the levy will pass but is unsure how the voters will respond.

“I’ve worked as the treasurer for some levy committee in Brimfield since 1984,” Rodd said. “I worked on the fire department’s last levy, and if this upcoming levy was just a renewal, I would 100 percent expect it to pass. With the additional millage, though, I’m not sure. A lot of Brimfield citizens are on fixed incomes, and that extra $10 or 20 means they might not be able to afford something else.”

But Mullaly is optimistic. He said the department is doing what it can to ask the least amount from voters as possible, noting the renewal saved senior citizens 12.5 percent through the homestead exception. The exception is no longer available on current or future levies.

Rodd said the department is accepting donations to help fund the levy campaign, though it does have $422 remaining in its account since the 2009 levy.

“We decided not to close out the account because we knew the levy would be back,” Rodd said. “The remaining money, and any additional donations, will be used to make signs for people’s front yards, fliers and other campaigning material.”

Mullaly said the department doesn’t have any fundraisers planned yet but will continue to update the community via the department’s Facebook page.

The May primary will take place on May 6 with absentee voting beginning April 1 and registration ending April 7.

Contact Grace Murrray at [email protected].