July 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Westfield Twp. seeks levy to fund full-time fire and rescue service

WESTFIELD TWP. — The township is seeking a 2.5-mill continuous levy to fund Westfield Fire and Rescue.

According to figures from the Medina County Auditor’s Office, the levy would bring in $170,000 annually, if approved. It would cost property owners $78.76 a year per $100,000 of appraised valuation and cancel a levy that costs residents $33.18 a year per $100,000 of valuation.

If voters approve the issue on the May 3 ballot, the South Central Fire District would be created, a move that would allow the township to tax its unincorporated areas. The incorporated areas in the township, which include the villages of Gloria Glens and Westfield Center, already have their own taxes that contribute to the Fire Department.

Heather Sturdevant, who sits on the township’s Zoning Commission and is working on a campaign to support the levy’s passage, said the township has contributed money from its general fund in order to help the fire department make ends meet.

“The township cannot afford to do that. We’re trying to create this district so that (the department) can be self-sufficient.,” Sturdevant said. One of the conditions of the fire district is the township would no longer be able to use any of its general fund money for the department.

Sturdevant noted the township hasn’t passed a new fire levy in 14 years.

If the levy is approved, Gloria Glens and Westfield Center also will contribute more money to the fire department. They each have contracts with the department that stipulate they are responsible for a certain percentage of the money the township contributes.

Fire Chief Richard Fletcher said the levy money would be a big help for the department.

“Basically, we’re at a point where we need to upgrade some of our safety equipment,” he said, noting turnout gear and other equipment are in danger of not meeting National Fire Protection Association standards.

“We’re very conscious of everybody’s situation with the economy, but we’re hoping that everybody will help support us so that we continue to provide the services that we do,” Fletcher said.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.