Middletown considers 25-year levy to build 4 fire stations

Middletown City Council will decide at its next meeting on July 20 whether to place a 1-mill property tax levy on the May 2022 ballot that would fund the building of four fire stations in the city, including fire headquarters on Roosevelt Boulevard. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Middletown City Council will decide at its next meeting on July 20 whether to place a 1-mill property tax levy on the May 2022 ballot that would fund the building of four fire stations in the city, including fire headquarters on Roosevelt Boulevard. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

City says $16.6M project needed to upgrade facilities.

MIDDLETOWN — Saying the city’s four fire stations are “not up to standards,” Middletown City Manager Jim Palenick has recommended putting a 1-mill property tax levy on the May 3, 2022, ballot. But Mayor Nicole Condrey has questioned both the length of the levy and why the city would wait until next spring.

City council heard the first reading of a resolution Tuesday night that would place a 25-year levy on the ballot that would replace the previously-enacted 1-mill levy established to fund debt service for the Central Connections Senior Center that is expiring this year.

Council will vote on the legislation at its next meeting on July 20.

The cost of designing, furnishing, and constructing the four new facilities that would replace the “inadequate and obsolete” existing stations is estimated at $16,667,500, Palenick said.

The city has produced a campaign video that features fire Chief Paul Lolli and Palenick. In the video, the conditions of the fire stations are emphasized.

Lolli said fire stations should provide a “safe, healthy and efficient” workplace.

Palenick said when he was hired last year it was “really clear the quality of our facilities didn’t meet any standards.”

Councilman Tal Moon said when he and other members toured the fire stations two years ago, it was “pretty eye opening” the poor conditions of the buildings. He said it’s not a case of “if” but “how quickly” the city needs to build four stations.

Council previously determined and designated the most optimal city-owned and controlled locations for the new stations based upon a number of factors, including: minimizing response-times based on both current and expected future development; limiting disruption to neighborhoods; effectuating proper site and building design; and, minimizing cost while maximizing value.

Lolli said the new stations would make Middletown “a safer place to live.”

If Middletown residents reject the levy next year, Palenick said the city could place an income tax increase that would require a 1/8th of 1% increase for at least 15 years; cut the general fund budget by more than $800,000 a year by reducing the number of public safety employees; build one fire station every five or six years that would about double the final cumulative tally of costs; or don’t replace the fire stations.

“Doing nothing is not a good alternative,” he said.

Condrey said she thought the city was going to place the tax levy on the November ballot and said the length of the levy would mean “another generation” would be paying for the fire stations.

Moon said the senior levy was always a spring ballot issue and since the fire station levy will be its replacement, it should be in the spring.

Palenick explained that debt is different in the public sector. He said when there’s a long-term asset like four fire stations that are expected to last 50-60 years, it’s best to spread the cost over time so the debt is paid by those who will benefit from the stations.


PROPOSED FOUR FIRE STATIONS

  • New fire headquarters location replacing the 1.38-acre site on Roosevelt Boulevard: A 3.6-acre site at Yankee Road and Cherry Street owned by the city of Middletown as acquired from the Middletown City Schools and former site of Garfield school. Size: 24,300 square feet. Cost: $7,168,500.
  • Station No. 81 location replacing 0.28-acre site on Clinton Street: A 2.85-acre site at Henry Avenue and Charles Street owned by the city of Middletown as acquired from the Middletown City Schools and former site of the Jefferson school. Size: 10,200 square feet. Cost: $3,009,000
  • Station No. 85 location replacing 0.86-acre site at Central Avenue and Breiel Boulevard: A 2-acre parcel at Sophie Avenue and Stolz Drive encompassing the undeveloped, southern portion of Dowling Park owned by the city of Middletown. Size: 10,200 square feet. Cost: $3,009,000.
  • No. 82 location replacing 0.88-acre site on Dixie Highway: A 2.7-acre site at Ohio 122 and Atrium Boulevard acquired from Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center. Size: 11,800 square feet. Cost: $3,481,000.

SOURCE: City of Middletown

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