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Local fire departments urge voters to pass ambulance levy

HOPEDALE — A couple of Harrison County fire departments will be without funding next year if a levy is not passed in the Nov. 3 election.

Hopedale Fire Chief Mark Marchetta said he hopes voters will vote “yes” on the Silver Spade Joint Ambulance District ambulance levy. Marchetta said the levy’s passage will determine whether the Hopedale and Cadiz fire departments’ ambulance services will remain full time, as federal funding for the departments is set to run out next year. In 2018, the departments received a Safer Grant that has allowed for fully staffed ambulance services; however, the funding is set to expire in July.

“Without a long-term funding solution to continue to be used for payroll, we will go back to a volunteer department next year,” he said.

Marchetta said the levy will be the long-term funding solution the departments need to continue to provide services to local communities including Cadiz Township, Green Township, the village of Cadiz and the village of Hopedale.

The department’s call volumes have more than tripled since it became a full-time department, he said.

“Our call volumes have gone up substantially. As a volunteer department the most calls we’ve ever answered was around 500 calls, and this year we’re going to approach 1,600 calls,” he said.

Marchetta said if the department were forced to return to volunteer status, many of those calls would fall on the shoulders of other departments and could mean a potential longer wait time in emergency situations.

“If we would go back to a volunteer department, many, many of those calls are going to become someone else’s responsibility and we don’t think that that’s acceptable,” he said.

Marchetta said the 2.25-mill levy will cost a taxpayer that has a property value of $100,000 around $80 per year. However, due to a “rare” occurrence, taxpayers will still save money even if the new levy were to pass, he said.

“It’s rare that taxes go down, but thanks to the Harrison County School Board, they’re reducing the school millage from 7.98 mills down to 2 mills at the end of 2020. So you can vote “yes” to the Silver Spade District levy and still see a reduction in your taxes, thanks to the school board reducing school millage,” he said.

Marchetta said if the levy passes, average taxpayers will still see an annual tax reduction of $128 thanks to the school district levy reduction.

If anyone has any questions or concerns regarding the levy, call the Hopedale Fire Department at 740-937-2333.

“If you have any questions, please contact the fire department and we can make sure all your questions are answered before you go and vote,” he said.

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