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Copley voters to see road, fire levies on ballot

9/4/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

COPLEY — Voters living in Copley will see replacement levies for township road maintenance and fire and emergency medical services (EMS) on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.

Trustee Dale Panovich said the two levies, which have yet to be assigned numbers by the Summit County Board of Elections, are not new taxes. If approved, the levies will keep road and fire/EMS services at their current levels, she said.

“Residents have always supported our levies and our departments and we hope they continue to do so,” Panovich said.

If passed, the road and bridge levy is projected to collect about $1.2 million per year, said Fiscal Officer Janice Marshall. The three-year, 2.5-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $87.50 per year, said Marshall. The levy was first approved in 1907, Marshall added.

Service Director Mark Mitchell said road and bridge levy proceeds fund the township’s annual expenses for road maintenance, which includes asphalt repaving, concrete street repair, chip sealing, pavement marking and snow and ice control. The road and bridge fund also is used to maintain open and closed road ditches, culverts and catch basins and to reduce pollution of waterways by cleaning storm lines and catch basins as required by the Environmental Protection Agency, Mitchell said. The township maintains 60 miles of roads, Mitchell said.

The road and bridge levy also is used to maintain and replace Service Department road equipment, Mitchell said, noting that some of the department’s equipment and snowplows are 10 to 12 years old. Approval of the levy will allow the township to replace the equipment as needed, he said.

Mitchell said he thought township roads were “better than average” and approval of the levy would allow the township to keep them that way.

“A good road system keeps property values high,” he said.

The three-year, 3.3-mill fire/EMS levy, if passed, is projected to collect about $1.6 million per year, Marshall said. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $116 per year, she added. It first was placed on the ballot in 1970, when the fire district was created, said Marshall.

Copley Fire Chief Michael Benson said proceeds from the levy fund day-to-day operations of the Copley Fire Department and are the source of salary and benefits for the majority of fire department employees.

The department currently has 16 full-time and 42 part-time employees at two fire stations — Fire Station No. 1 at Copley Town Hall and Stony Hill Station, a joint venture with Bath Township at 4570 Medina Road, Benson said. Salaries of some personnel at Stony Hill Station are split with Bath, he said.

Approval of the levy is needed to “keep people in the building and be able to respond 24/7” to emergency calls, he said.

“I’m pretty confident the people of Copley Township value the services they receive,” Benson said.

The department answered a record 2,418 calls in 2013, and its most frequent call is to assist senior women who have fallen, Benson said. The department also provides all-hazards response, hazardous materials response, fire alarm response, fire safety education and fire inspections, Benson said.

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