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Board of Trustees consider new levies for police, fire
The West Chester Board of Trustees conducted a public work session on June 9 to discuss future funding for the police and fire departments. Township staff painted a funding outlook for the Township’s two largest departments that reveals levies failing to keep up with operational costs and depleted carryovers.
The Board of Trustees will have a couple weeks to think about it before being faced with the decision to consider a Resolution of Necessity at their June 23 regular meeting. This step is required before going to the Butler County Auditor for certification.
West Chester’s public safety departments are funded with designated voter-approved levies. The 911 Communications Center is also funded through these levies with police and fire sharing these costs.
West Chester’s current Fire Levy is 6 mills and was approved by voters 14 years ago. On average, it generates about $11.1 million each year. Recent expenditures for the department have been between $12 million and $14 million with carryover funds making up the difference.
The current Police Levy is 7 mills and is 10 years old, generating annually an average of about $12.9 million. Recent expenditures have been between $13 million and $14.8 million, again relying on carryover from previous years to cover the annual costs of services.
Because of state legislation approved in the 1970s, these levies collect today about the same amount they collected when first approved. Neither increasing property values nor increasing costs for services impact the amount of tax revenue collected from these levies. The gross mills that voters approve is reduced to an Effective Rate that is actually applied to property tax bills. The Effective Rate is adjusted annually to ensure that appreciated values are not included in property tax calculations. If Trustees move forward with placing two issues on the ballot in November, the millage will be on top of the existing millage already levied for these departments. This allows qualified residents to still benefit from the Homestead Rollback on the 2 original levies.
In West Chester the owner of a $240,000 home would pay an additional $336.00 annually with passage of both new levies. Owners of the same $240,000 home currently pay about $472 annually for police service and about $405 for fire & EMS service.
With passage of these two levies in November, the owner of the $240,000 house will pay about $1,213 annually for public safety services.
- APPROVED June 23 – Trustee consider Resolution of Need
- July 14 – Trustees consider Resolutions to proceed