Category Archives: Elections/Political Office

Jackson Township Fire/EMS Levy – Is it a Good Idea?

We all want to feel secure in our homes and safe in the belief that if we have a fire, someone will come to put it out.  And, we are grateful that there are those among us who are called to come to the rescue when tragedy strikes.

But, does that mean voting for a tax increase for Fire/EMS services is the right thing to do?  Emergency services are legitimate functions of government, but does that mean any and all expenditures for those services are proper and reasonable?  Should a responsible taxpayer know how their money will be spent?

When it comes to our safety and well being, Emotion often rules; but let’s consider all the facts and arrive at a data-driven decision before we vote on this issue.

What is this Fire/EMS tax levy?

The Jackson Township Trustees have placed a 2.5 mill levy – an additional tax – for Fire/EMS on the November 4, 2014 ballot.  This is a continual tax levy (not a renewal levy), which means that it is a permanent tax increase.  It will never expire.

Currently, Jackson Township property owners pay $134.82 per $100,000 property valuation for just the Fire/EMS portion of their tax.  The additional tax would be $87.50 per $100,000 valuation.  This is a 64.9% increase in our Fire/EMS taxes.

What is the current overall property tax in Jackson Township?

This tax increase does not take place in a vacuum. It is just part of our overall property tax burden, so it is helpful to view it in that context.  There are two taxing districts in Jackson Township – CNE & Williamsburg School Districts.  Our overall tax covers county services, township services (including Fire/EMS), schools, and library:

Your Property Value(100% Appraised Value) Current Tax for Property in CNE School District* Current Tax for Property in Williamsburg School District*
$100,000 $1301 $1576
$125,000 $1626.25 $1970
$150,000 $1951.50 $2364
$175,000 $2276.75 $2758
$200,000 $2602 $3152
$225,000 $2927.25 $3546
$250,000 $3252.50 $3940
$275,000 $3577.75 $4334
$300,000 $3903 $4728

*Figures are “approximate” from Clermont County Deputy Auditor

 

How will the Fire/EMS Levy affect your taxes?

Your Property Value(100% Appraised Value) Current Tax for Fire/EMS Proposed Tax                                 Increase New Fire/EMS Tax if Levy Passes
$100,000 $134.82 $87.50 $222.32
$125,000 $168.52 $109.38 $277.90
$150,000 $202.22 $131.25 $333.47
$175,000 $235.93 $153.13 $389.06
$200,000 $269.64 $175.00 $444.64
$225,000 $303.34 $196.88 $500.22
$250,000 $337.04 $218.75 $555.79
$275,000 $370.75 $240.62 $611.37
$300,000 $404.46 $262.50 $666.96

 

How do our Fire/EMS taxes compare with the other townships in the county?

The taxes are listed from the highest tax per $100,000 to the lowest:

Township Cost per $100k Fire/EMS Tax Revenue* Parcels
Central Joint Fire & EMS (Batavia) 249.01 2,978,917 9,174
Stonelick 230.58 943,631 3,364
Monroe 227.12 876,865 3,192
Jackson if levy    passes 222.32 381,271 1,768
Franklin 219.56 365,559 2,799
Tate 216.72 1,104,620 5,644
Pierce 185.85 2,067,117 7,459
Wayne 185.22 442,175 2,610
Ohio 167.27 238,320 3,151
Williamsburg 135.14 484,748 3,586
Jackson 134.82 243,771 1,768
Goshen 114.03 976,599 6,214
Miami 102.69 3,592,484 16,741
Union 93.87 3,131,830 16,899
Washington 55.76 985,128 1,860

*Except for the “Jackson if levy passes” figures in red, these figures are for tax year 2013, payable in 2014, and show charged amounts, not collections.  With the proposed additional tax, Jackson’s tax would increase to $222.32, moving it above Franklin Township in the list. (The table does not reflect the 5-yr levy passed by Goshen in May 2014.)

How big is Jackson Township compared to the other townships in the county? 

Township Total Population* Housing Units*
Total Occupied Vacant
Union 46,416 20,098 18,617 1,481
Miami 40,848 15,668 14,785 883
Batavia 23,280 9,117 8,476 641
Goshen 15,505 6,019 5,629 390
Pierce 14,349 6,011 5,652 359
Tate 9,357 3,799 3,470 329
Monroe 7,828 3,126 2,809 317
Stonelick 5,890 2,478 2,329 149
Williamsburg 5,746 2,357 2,173 184
Ohio** 5,192 2,165 1,935 230
Wayne 4,885 1,902 1,769 133
Franklin 4,188 1,768 1,541 227
Jackson 2,980 1,123 1,059 64
Washington 2,278 933 839 94

*per 2010 census.

**Data for Ohio Township includes New Richmond, pop 2,582, which has its own Fire/EMS.

 What do the numbers tell us?

  • Jackson Township is a very small community – fewer than 3,000 residents with just over a thousand occupied housing units – and property owners pay a reasonable amount for Fire/EMS services when compared to the other townships county wide.
  • Jackson Township’s current cost per $100,000 is more than 240% greater than that of Washington Township, the smallest township in the county; yet Washington generates more than 4 times as much revenue in property taxes for Fire/EMS.  That is because Zimmer is located there and contributes significantly to the tax base.  Jackson does not have a large tax base.  (Washington has 2 manned stations.)
  • Jackson Township property owners currently pay over 40% more than those in Union Township, the largest township in the county; yet Union has almost 13 times as much revenue from property taxes for Fire/EMS as Jackson.   The population there is more than 15 times the population of Jackson, and they have a huge number of businesses.  (Union has 5 manned stations.)

According to a report by Goshen’s fire chief, in 2011-2012, Union Township is the busiest department in terms of number of calls, while Jackson Township is the least busy.  That makes sense given the data we’ve already seen.  Thus, not only is Jackson a very small community, it has a small demand for services.

Our current Fire/EMS services

Jackson Township has an all-volunteer fire department, and is, in fact, the only township in the county that does.  That is a source of pride for the department and the community. We do not, however, have our own EMS department.  We contract with neighboring townships for those services.  In 2013, those services were provided by Stonelick, Wayne, and Williamsburg Townships.  Stonelick decided not to renew the contract with Jackson beginning in 2014, so currently EMS services are contractually provided  by Wayne & Williamsburg Townships.  The contract is for 5 years beginning in January 2014.

The township is divided north and south by U.S. 50.  Wayne handles emergency medical service (EMS) runs for residences north of U.S. 50, while Williamsburg handles the runs south of U.S. 50.  For addresses on U.S. 50 itself, Wayne handles the calls west of 133; Williamsburg handles the calls east of 133.

Both Wayne and Williamsburg have paid Fire/EMS staff and are manned at their stations ready for dispatch during daytime hours M-F and on the weekend.  At night, EMS responders generally come from home, get the ambulance from the station, and leave for the call.  Wayne has a paramedic at the station 24/7 who is dispatched immediately in a first responder vehicle, and can precede the ambulance to the scene.  Wayne’s chief boasts a 7-min response time to the furthest point in Jackson Township’s area of coverage.

What prompted the decision to put a levy on the ballot?

When Stonelick Township decided not to renew their contract with Jackson Township at the end of 2013, it put the trustees in a very uncomfortable position. They were able to negotiate a new contract with Wayne & Williamsburg Townships, and the financial arrangement that was worked out was much more attractive than the previous contract, making it a win-win for all parties involved. One year’s notice is required to cancel the contract.

Despite the fact that all 3 trustees have said they think that the current arrangement we have for contracted EMS services is the best arrangement for Jackson Township,  they fear that in the future they could be put in a bad position, as they had been before.  That put the wheels in motion for planning to develop our own department.

Many options were explored, and they zeroed in on a plan to build a new fire house.  For the square footage requirements – including sleeping quarters, kitchen, workout room, etc – the estimate was for $1.4 million dollars.  Financial consultants told them that it would cost about $137,000 per year to finance such a project.  The county then advised them on how much millage would be needed to generate that amount, hence the 2.5 mill levy which is estimated to generate $137,500 per year.

Plans have not been finalized, and obviously cannot be finalized until the outcome of the levy is determined.  But the direction that the Township wants to go is clear from the research and planning that has already taken place.  If the levy passes, an expensive new building is on the horizon.  From the levy committee’s figures, building maintenance alone will increase by 74%.  And that could easily be the tip of the iceberg.

What about personnel costs?  They say we will continue to be a volunteer department.  But for how long?  Wayne Township’s EMS budget for personnel is nearly $400,000.  How could a community the size of Jackson Township afford that?  (Jackson volunteers, incidentally, do receive a small stipend of $10 per run, and the chief is paid $6,000 annually.)

Shared Services

In the current economic climate of the country, there is a push for consolidated and shared services.  Jackson Township has been ahead of the game in sharing services by contracting with neighboring townships.  Ohio Township, which is comparable in size to Jackson Township (excluding New Richmond  because they have their own fire department), contracts for both fire and EMS services from Pierce Township; so this is certainly a practice that is not foreign to the county.

What happens if you vote NO?

A NO vote will not change the service we are currently receiving.

A NO vote on the tax increase is not a vote against the members of our Fire & EMS team.  They are important to our safety and deserve our support.  We appreciate their service and admire their dedication.

We need to be realistic about the size and resources of the township.  As much as some might want a newer and bigger building and fire department, as a community we’re not big enough to build and sustain it.  We do, however, need to rally together as a community to make decisions  that will provide our township with the kind and level of services that we need and that we can afford.

 

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Clermont County Republican Voting Guide

Pay particular attention to the judicial candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court because they are not marked on the ballot with party designation.  Take this guide to the poll with you to be sure.  The state legislature has passed some gun rights legislation that will probably be challenged in the courts.  We want conservative judges in those positions.

November 2014 Voting Guide

 

 

Mr. President, Tell Us the Truth

We were all waiting for it.  The question about Libya.  We’d been following the story as it had evolved over the past month.  Did Obama know it was a terrorist attack from the beginning, and attribute it to an out-of-control protest over a YouTube video?  Or, did he really think it was indeed a reaction to a video, long after the world – including the Libyan government – recognized it as a terrorist attack?  Was he complicit in a cover-up because the killing of bin Laden was supposed to be the death of al Qaeda, and a terrorist attack would be a political disaster weeks before the presidential election?   Or, is his administration so incompetent that as commander in chief he didn’t know that one of our foreign diplomatic posts (in a Middle Eastern hot-bed) was the site of a terrorist attack on the anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?  Either way, it could not be good for the President. 

The question finally came in the last third of the debate:

QUESTION: “We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans.

Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?”

The question probably took this form because Joe Biden had denied any knowledge of the request for extra security last week in the vice presidential debate and because earlier this week Hillary Clinton formally accepted responsibility for what happened in Benghazi on September 11. 

Obama began his response by talking about diplomats in general, his concern for “these folks” and their families, his instructions (upon hearing of the attacks) to beef up security, and how we would “make sure folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again.”   He concluded by criticizing Romney for issuing a press release too soon after the attack, and by congratulating himself for going after al Qaeda and bin Laden.  Obama did not answer the question.  Consistent with his typical M.O., he dodged, he redirected, and he launched an offense.  But the genie was out of the bottle.  The door was open to talk about this whole Libya debacle.

Romney expressed his sympathy for the families, then cut to the heart of the matter:

ROMNEY: “There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack.  And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people. Whether there was some misleading, or instead whether we just didn’t know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?”

He went on to express his distress over the real and symbolic significance of the President’s leaving for political fundraising events the day after the assassination of our ambassador (the first in over 30 years) and three other Americans, when he needed to be sorting out the details of this international situation.  Romney said that Obama’s reaction to this event has called into question his policies in the Middle East – policies that began with an apology tour and are based on “leading from behind.”

At this point Candy Crowley posed a follow-up question to Obama regarding the secretary of state’s accepting responsibility for what happened in Benghazi.

Obama praised Secretary Clinton, noting that she works for him, so, as President, he is responsible.  He went on (underlines mine):

OBAMA: “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.”

Hmm.  Righteous indignation.  It’s often been said that the best defense is a good offense.  Diversion.

It was at this point that Romney tried to establish for the record exactly what Obama had said and was saying.  Did he identify the assault on the American team as a terrorist attack from the beginning as he just said, and then spend the next two weeks attributing it all to a video?  Obama’s partner in the debate, Candy Crowley, jumped in to defend the President with the transcript of the September 12 Rose Garden statement.  (And isn’t it curious that Obama said, “Get the transcript” and Candy has it in hand?)

Let’s look at that statement.  It’s just over 5 min – in video form on the White House website, with the text shown on the screen as Obama is speaking.  (Click on White House website above, or here to read text and see embedded video.)

Obama begins by announcing the deaths of the four Americans, condemning the attack, and pledging to bring the killers to justice.  He follows by referencing America’s religious freedom (presumedly because of the linking to the anti-Muslim video):

“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.”  

Obama goes on to describe Ambassador Stevens’s career in Libya. Then he speaks about the day before – the anniversary of 9/11 – when he mourned with the families of the victims, went to Arlington Cemetery to visit the graves of troops who died in Iraq and Afganistan, and spoke with wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital.  He acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice made by civilians and the military.  It is in this context that the reference to “acts of terror” is made: 

“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

As you listen to the statement, it seems clear that “acts of terror” refers to the original 9/11 attack on America and the resulting deaths from the war that followed.  

He continues:

“Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.” 

Was Obama saying that, in addition, these four Americans were the victims of an act of terror?  It’s possible to interpret it that way.  As details unfold, it’s not unlikely that he knew what had happened and was deliberately creating some ambiguity.  In light of what followed in the subsequent two weeks, to contend in the debate that he acknowledged it from the beginning as a “terrorist attack” (Romney’s words) is deceptive.

Following that Rose Garden statement, Obama and Clinton appeared in an ad on Arab TV (at a cost of  about $70,000 to the tax payers) denouncing the YouTube video and proclaiming the American value of religious tolerance.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. went on 5 Sunday talk shows blaming the video for the tragedy.

Jay Carney attributed the attack to the video.

And Obama, two weeks after the attack, denounced the video in his UN address, but did not acknowledge the assault on the consulate as a terrorist act. 

Now, in the second presidential debate, Obama claims that he identified the attack as an “act of terror” from the day after the attack.  When the matter is pressed further will he argue that “act of terror” is not the same as “terrorist attack”?

Are we going to resort to semantics?  Play word games to evade the truth?  Most of us remember the infamous words of Bill Clinton when he lied to the grand jury in the Monica Lewinski scandal: “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”  No, it does not depend on the nuances of words or ambiguity that you may rely on to cover lies.  The truth has its basis in facts and reality.  So, Mr. President, are you lying to us now, or were you lying to us then?

This ad released by American Crossroads sums it up:

Link to video of the 2nd presidential debate

Link to transcript of 2nd presidential debate