Fire levies to provide for staffing, maintaining response time

by Chris Studor

Hinckley Fire Chief Jestin Grossenbaugh said he is counting on the passage of a five-year, 1-mill renewal levy and five-year, 1-mill additional levy  at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to generate the funding needed to add third firefighter to all shifts, purchase a new fire truck and lifesaving equipment and allow for the more efficient management of personnel.

“If the renewal and additional levy fail, we will have to go back to only two members per shift,” Grossenbaugh said. “With only two members on shift, at times we will have to go back to using volunteer firefighters, many of whom are called in from their homes versus coming from the actual fire station, and this makes for a significant increase in response time to emergencies.”

Grossenbaugh said the passage of Issues 24 and 25 means three firefighters would be on duty for all three shifts, and one of those three firefighters will likely be a paramedic.

“This means that one [firefighter] can be driving the ambulance while there are two people in the back treating the patient,” he added.

According to estimates provided by the Medina County Auditor’s Office, the current 1-mill levy up for renewal on the ballot, currently generates approximately $351,000 a year. If approved by voters, it will costs homeowners $35 a year per $100,000 in valuation. The additional 1-mill levy, which is expected to generate approximately $382,600 a year, is also expected to cost property owners $35 per $100,000 in valuation. That means if voters approve both levies, property owners will pay $70 per $100,000 in valuation.

Hinckley Fiscal Officer Martha Catherwood said that based on the county auditor’s estimate, failure to pass the renewal would result in an approximate 40% decrease in overall spending for the fire department.

Catherwood’s statement is echoed by Trustee Monique Ascherl.

“This renewal levy is critical to remain at our current structure,” Ascherl said. “If the renewal does not pass, it will cut our fire department revenue by approximately 40%. We have not discussed what would need to be cut from the department’s budget if this happens.”

Should the new levy pass, however, Ascherl said the additional revenue will allow the fire department to move to three- person coverage 24 hours per day.

 “This will result in better patient care as it allows for two people working on a patient in the back of the squad and the driver,” she said.

Trustee Melissa Augustine explained that because the department currently operates with just two employees, a medic is not always on duty. An additional cause for concern, she said, is that one set of hands has to drive the squad.

Featured Photo: The Hinckley Fire Department, which teamed up with the community’s youth at the 2021 Touch a Truck event to wet down the department’s new fire engine, has posed a 1-mill renewal levy and a 1-mill new levy on the Nov. 8 ballot. Passage of both levies would allow the department to add a third first responder at the fire station around the clock. Photo by C. Sudor.