Middletown’s fire chief believes it’s never too early to educate voters.
So six months before a 1-mill property tax will be placed on the May 2022 ballot, the Middletown Division of Fire is hosting the first of two open houses at the city’s four fire stations so residents can see “first-hand some of the conditions our guys are working and living under,” said fire Chief Paul Lolli.
The goal, Lolli said, is to provide residents with information so they can “make good decisions and show them the conditions and why it’s important we work and are housed in a safe and healthy environment,” he said.
He said fire officials will be on hand to answer citizens’ questions and give tours of the four stations. There will be another open house in March 2022, he said.
The cost of designing, furnishing, and constructing the four facilities that would replace the “inadequate and obsolete” existing stations is estimated at $16.6 million, said City Manager Jim Palenick.
After city council unanimously voted to place the property tax on the ballot next spring, Lolli said he has received “really good feedback” from residents.
“A lot of it has been positive,” he said.
At a city council meeting in July, Mayor Nicole Condrey questioned the timing of the levy. She wanted it on the November ballot.
Palenick responded by saying after the city performed its “due diligence” by confirming the fire station locations and design considerations and financing, it missed the deadline to place the issue on the November ballot.
Council member Tal Moon said Middletown voters just passed a road levy and putting the fire station levy on next spring gives time to educate voters.
“It makes sense to wait,” he said.
The 25-year levy would replace the previously-enacted 1-mill levy established to fund debt service for the Central Connections Senior Center that is expiring this year.
If Middletown residents reject the levy, 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.
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 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 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. 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
HOW TO GO
WHAT: Open house of Middletown’s four fire stations
WHEN: 2-4 p.m. Oct. 3
WHERE: Fire headquarters: 2300 Roosevelt Blvd; Fire stations: 307 N. Clinton, 3765 S. Dixie Highway and 4310 Central Ave.
HOW MUCH: Free and open to the public.