By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA – In a show of support, members of the Piqua fire department attended Tuesday’s commission meeting as city leaders and commissioners discussed a resolution to place a proposed increase of 0.25 of 1 percent municipal income tax levy to the November 2014 ballot.
According to Gary Huff, city manager, unless the economy makes a drastic change, the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) six – firefighters hired onto the Piqua fire department thanks to a $1 million grant in 2012 – will end in March 2015. Resulting not only in the loss of those six positions but much needed continued public safety and security.
Huff cited the loss of reduction in funding from the state of Ohio that amounts to almost $2 million annually.
“To make up for these lost general fund revenues, vacant positions had to remain unfilled, equipment replacement and purchases had to be delayed, and programs curtailed,” continued Huff, who also cited the 2012 levy that would have generated an approximate $1 million that failed, and provided to those in attendance a few examples behind the need to fund both the fire and police departments. Those included Piqua having the highest number of property crimes in the nation compared to other communities of similar size, among other statistics.
Other statistics listed on the city manager’s blog at piquaohcm.wordpress.com include the following:
Piqua has 1.6 sworn officers per 1000 residents as compared to 2.2 per 1000 residents for small cities.
Piqua expends $191 per resident on police services as compared to $260 nationally.
There were 3.5 automobile accidents that resulted injuries as compared to the national average of 6.6 per 1000 residents.
35 violent crimes occurred in Piqua as compared to the 54.8 national average.
Fire and Emergency Services:
Piqua had 153 calls for emergency services for every 1,000 residents – the 8th highest in the nation.
Piqua expends $150 per resident for fire and emergency medical services which is the 10th lowest in the nation.
Fire incident occurrence was 5.2 per 1000 residents as compared to 4.7 per 1,000 national average.
Piqua Local 252 President Robert Bloom expanded on the issue by emphasizing the outcome of the recent Young St. fire wherein adequate staffing culminated in not only the rescue of a trapped individual, but fighting the fire so as to keep it from spreading to additional nearby homes. A scenario that may not have ensued had the department been understaffed.
Commissioners proceeded to adopt the resolution with the monies – upon voter passage in November - to keep the SAFER six and add five additional officers to the city’s police department.
The levy will be on the 2014 November ballot and will read as follows:
Shall Sections 36.03, 36.04 and 36.13 of the City of Piqua Codified Ordinances be amended to increase the City income tax from 1.75 percent to 2.00 percent beginning January 1, 2015, with the additional 0.25 percent levy to be used solely for capital and operating needs of police, fire and public safety related services?
__For the Income Tax
__Against the Income Tax
Commission meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of the month, on the second floor of the Government Municipal Complex, in the commission chamber.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall