COVINGTON — Covington Council is considering a 2.5-mill tax levy for Covington residents to vote on, which would provide a dedicated revenue stream solely for the village’s fire and emergency medical services (EMS).
During their meeting Monday evening, the council heard the first reading of the resolution, which if approved, would send the tax levy to the Miami County Board of Elections and then it would be placed on the November ballot.
The 2.5-mill tax levy would be for five years. According to the council’s resolution, the county auditor certified that the total current tax valuation of the villager is $39,738,600. The 2.5-mill tax levy would generate approximately $99,346 annually if the current tax valuation stays the same.
The village currently funds its fire and EMS services through its general fund. Village Administrator Mike Busse explained that revenue streams to the general fund have gone down since the elimination of local government funds from the state and the elimination of inheritance taxes. Busse said that while he may personally agree with the elimination of inheritance taxes, those previous revenue streams need to be replaced in order to continue providing quality emergency services.
“You have to replace those funds somehow,” Busse said. “We can’t bridge that gap anymore.” According to Busse, the passage of this levy will replace those reduced funding sources and secure needed funding for the village’s fire and EMS services into the future.
“We really need dedicated revenue sources to fund fire and EMS,” Busse said. “We just want to see those great services continued.”
Covington Fire and Rescue is also going to 24-hour staffing. With staff being on station, the response time is around 2 minutes and 12 seconds. With volunteers responding from their homes, the response time is around 6 minutes and 11 seconds. Volunteers are currently putting in around 60 hours per week for Covington Fire and Rescue, mostly in the evenings and overnight.
“They have some aging equipment,” Busse said. Busse explained that one of the two ambulances that Covington Fire and Rescue owns is 20 years old and needs to be replaced. The other ambulance is seven years old, and the village wants to begin setting aside funds for its replacement. Fire equipment, such as the replacement of gear, hoses, and other equipment, is also an annual and ongoing expense to the village.
“It’s not unique to Covington,” Busse said about finding funding for emergency services. The city of Piqua faced the same issue when they passed a safety services levy in November 2014, which was an income tax increase of 0.25 percent, with the funds going solely to Piqua’s police and fire departments.
The resolution still needs to undergo two more readings before the council approves having the 2.5-mill tax levy placed on the November ballot. The next reading will take place during the council’s next meeting, which will be held on July 5 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building, located at 1 S. High St. in Covington.
Also during the council’s meeting, they approved awarding a contract for the 2016 street repaving program to Wagner Paving for $49,898.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336