Twin ballot defeats: Voters reject both Madison Schools’ tax and local fire, EMS levy

Tax issues to fund Madison Twp's fire and EMS department - as well as Madison Schools - were both defeated at the polls Tuesday as many voters cited concerns over inflation and an uncertain economy to local school and fire officials. (File Photo\Journal-News)

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Tax issues to fund Madison Twp's fire and EMS department - as well as Madison Schools - were both defeated at the polls Tuesday as many voters cited concerns over inflation and an uncertain economy to local school and fire officials. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Madison Schools will be facing budget cuts as voters rejected a proposed income tax hike, and the defeat of a local fire and EMS tax levy late Tuesday evening means cuts for those services too, officials said.

According to unofficial vote tallies from the Butler County Board of Elections, the proposed 1% income tax hike to help fund Madison Schools lost by a 74% to 26% margin.

And unofficial vote totals Tuesday night for the Madison Twp. fire and EMS department’s 3-mill, five-year levy showed it had lost by 52% to 48%.

The twin ballot defeats in this rural community just west of Middletown means the coming months will include budget reductions in personnel for both Madison’s schools and its fire and EMS departments, said officials in both, local taxpayer-funded entities.

“The results of the election tonight are disappointing,” Madison Schools Superintendent Jeff Staggs told the Journal-News.

“The board of education and I will determine when this issue should be re-voted on. We still need new funds. We will have to assess what cuts in staffing and programs must be made for the district’s immediate future,” said Staggs, who oversees the 1,600-student school system with a single, K-12 campus.

Sandy Creach, treasurer for the pro-school tax campaign, said residents’ concerns over inflation and a rocky economy helped lead to the defeat of the proposed school income tax increase.

“It’s because of the economy right now,” Creach said.

“Everything is so high. Gas is high and groceries are terribly high and prices have gone up on everything,” she said.

And having another proposed local tax hike on the ballot in the small community didn’t help either, she said referring to the fire and EMS ballot tax issue.

Kent Hall, fire Chief for Madison Twp., also cited inflation and economic concerns of residents as the primary reasons his department’s tax hike lost at the polls.

Thought the defeat of the fire levy was closer than that of the schools, it still means the department will now face personnel cuts to an already lean fire department, Hall said.

“We’re going to have to (meet) with the trustees and see what Plan B will be. We have some immediate needs on the fire end and EMS with apparatus and buildings.”

Residents who spoke to Hall while he was at the polls often cited their concerns about inflation, he said.

“That was the main thing they were talking about with everyday issues like inflation and cost of everything going up and the unknowns,” Hall said.

He said the township used to be served by 55 to 60 volunteer firefighters, but that number has dropped to 40 to 45 and that include part-time EMS.

“It comes down to more staffing around the clock and faster response times for medical and fire-related calls,” Hall said previously.

And aging buildings used by the fire and EMS crews need to be replaced, he said.

The township has three fire stations: Station 152 on Middletown Germantown Road was built in 1850 and is a former school house; Station 151, 4398 Elk Creek Road, was built in 1950; and the life squad at Ohio 122 and Mosiman Road was built in 1999.

The last fire levy in Madison Twp. passed in 2010 and before that it was 1979, he said.

Staff Writer Rick McCrabb contributed to this story.

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