Breakdown of Fulton Township Fire Levy Vote

The following was taken from a recent posting on the Facebook page of Swanton Mayor Neil Toeppe:

FIRE LEVY – Fulton Township (Village Residents)

On Monday, October 25, 2021, Village Council discussed and approved Fire Service contracts to be entered into with Swancreek and Fulton Townships.  These contracts assume that the additional new Fulton Township 1 mil Fire/EMS Levy passes on November 2, 2021. Should this levy pass, it will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Should this levy pass Village Council has committed to cease collecting the Village Fire tax.  While I am not a fan of the double tax, i.e., the townships taxing village residents for fire service and the village taxing these same residents for fire service.  We need to take a serious look at the implications of this potential change.

There are some philosophical differences that should be reviewed.

There are two ways that the double tax can be eliminated: (1) The plan as proposed to eliminate the village tax and have only the township taxes.  This directs all Fire levy funds to the two townships and contracts are entered into between the village and the townships for financial support to the Swanton Fire Department.

Or, (2) Conform the boundaries of the townships and the village and eliminate the overlapping taxing authorities.  Townships strongly oppose the conforming of the boundaries and will not entertain this discussion.

So, what happens should the contracts as proposed be executed?

Let’s look at the specific language in the proposed contracts.

“…In recognition of this financial support said village agrees not to petition to alter the boundaries of the township pursuant to Section 503.07 of the Ohio Revised code during the term of this agreement. The parties further agree that the cost of extraordinary fire or rescue equipment purchased during the term of this Agreement shall be shared upon additional agreement of the parties.” 

Question: Why is the conforming of boundaries language included in a fire agreement?  This limits the statutory authority of the village should they ever want to petition to conform boundaries.  Second: Since all of the tax levy revenue will be collected by the townships, they will have significant control over how those funds are expended. Should the townships disagree with a recommendation from the Fire Chief regarding the purchase of a new or used major apparatus, the townships have total control over approval or disapproval of the purchase. Village Council has no authority to override this decision.

The townships make the argument that since it is “their” money they should have control over “extraordinary” expenditures.

Swancreek Township makes the case that since the levy in Swancreek Township provides the greatest amount of tax revenue that they should have a significant say in how the expenditures are made.

Let’s take a look at this claim.  Swancreek Township (un-incorporated – or outside the village boundary) will generate $192,967.  Swancreek Township (Incorporated – or inside the Village limits – Swanton Village residents) will generate $246,268.  The combined Swancreek township tax levy contribution will be $389,225.

This is the number that Swancreek Township is working off of. They are discounting that Village residents generated $246,268 or 63% of those dollars. Yet Village Council will not have the final word on “extraordinary” expenses, even though village residents are contributing 63% of the fire levy funds.

Let’s take a look at what the Fulton Township levy will generate.  Fulton Township un-incorporated – $100,821.  Fulton Township Incorporated (inside the village limits) – $204, 248.  A combined Fulton Township levy will generate $305,069, of which 66% comes from Village residents.

So, if you are a village resident that lives in the overlapping Fulton Township you have a serious decision to make. When you vote you are deciding on two things while also making the decision for the entire Village of Swanton: (1) To eliminate the double tax and in doing so reduce your fire taxes, and (2) To cede control of the Swanton Fire department “extraordinary” expenses to the Swancreek and Fulton Township Trustees.

Should the levy fail then Swanton residents, through their Village Council, maintains continued control over the Swanton Fire Department and taxes remain as they are today.

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