Taxpayers in three western Butler County communities will decide May 8 on a set of pocketbook issues involving infrastructure, public safety and a recreation trail.
Residents of Milford and Morgan townships, and the city of Oxford would pay more in taxes if measures in each of these communities are approved by voters.
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Morgan Twp. residents are being asked to increase the millage to for an EMS levy that pays for the part-time salaries of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. Trustees voted to renew the 2.5-mill levy and increase it by 0.5 mills. This means the requested 5-year, 3-mill levy, if approved, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $87.52 a year in property taxes due to this levy, an increase of $17.50.
“For us to be competitive, to keep our firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, we have to be competitive with everyone else in Southwest Ohio,” said Morgan Twp. Fire Chief Jeff Galloway. “For the next five years, it will keep us right at even for salaries projected.”
Morgan Twp. employs part-time firefighters, but runs its two stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Trustees in Milford Twp. are asking voters to approve a new 5-year, 2-mill levy that will help pave the township’s 33 miles of roads. Residents of a $100,000 home would pay $70 a year in new taxes if voters approve this levy request.
“Since our local government funds have been cut by almost 50 percent, and we lost the estate tax — and no money to replace it with — it’s gotten to the point where we have to ask the voters,” said Milford Twp. Trustee President Paul Gillespie. “We don’t want to do it, but we have to or we go back to chip and seal because the expense on blacktop has gone up tremendously.”
Chip sealing uses the same ingredients as asphalt concrete paving but the construction method is different. This process applies a thin film of heated asphalt liquid sprayed on the road, which is followed by small aggregates, or chips, which are then compacted.
Gillespie said you can only chip seal a road, which he calls a Band-Aid solution, so many times before it needs to be replaced.
“If you have some bad places in the road, it doesn’t really fix it,” he said.
Milford Twp. Fiscal Officer Mollie Hansel said the township in 2007 received $100,000 in local government funds, and last year they received $61,000. The township received, on average, $90,000 a year from 2010 to 2013 before the estate tax, commonly referenced as the death tax, was eliminated.
“There’s a void now in our revenue stream,” she said, adding that the cost to resurface a road “has doubled or tripled” since 2000. “We try to repair and keep all the roads in the best condition we can in the township, but unfortunately our revenues have been declining.”
City of Oxford
Residents in Oxford are being asked to pay for a 10-year, 3.25-mill levy to help pay for the construction of nearly 12 miles of trails in the next phase of the Oxford Area Trails project. City Manager Doug Elliott said this is the first time in his 10-year tenure Oxford has placed a property tax levy on the ballot.
The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $113.75 a year in new property taxes.
“We’re hoping to use these levy dollars to help us secure further grants, so the grant dollars that we apply for we can use this as a match,” said Jessica Greene, director at EnjoyOxford, at the Jan. 2 council meeting.
Phase I of the trail project was completed in June 2017.