Hubbard fire district considers new tax levy to boost roster

HUBBARD — The Eagle Joint Fire District, which covers Hubbard city and Hubbard Township, is considering placing a 5.1-mill continuous operating levy on the November ballot.

The fire board met Thursday with fire Chief Ron Stanish to discuss millage options.

The board had three of its five members present and decided to wait until at least four members were present to take the first step to place a levy on the ballot.

Board member Rick Hernandez, a Hubbard Township trustee, said a special meeting may be called next week, or action will be taken at the June 14 meeting.

Stanish said with inflation rising and the department needing to be competitive with other departments in what they pay their staff, a 3.1-mill levy would be “the bare minimum” needed to provide funds for the department as well as pay employees amd give them pay increases over the years.

“We need to be competitive on what we pay moving forward to find people and retain them,” Stanish said, noting he has looked at what surrounding fire departments are paying.

“We are probably the third or fourth busiest fire department in the county,” Stanish said, noting they watch overtime but the department’s limited staff is being overworked.

Stanish said ideal staffing would be four full-time and one part-time employee each shift. He said that is what a 5.1-mill levy would cover.

“With the amount of calls we receive, five on staff per shift would be ideal,” he said.

He said there also is a need for new equipment, such as an ambulance, which would cost $130,000.

The board discussed what would be ideal to have on different shifts at the department in terms of paramedics, emergency medical technicians and firefighters.

Stanish said the fire district is asking the board to make a decision on a levy that would provide adequate staffing.

“Like most fire departments, we are having staffing issues to cover the number of calls we receive. There has been an increase this year. Fifty percent of our calls are overlapping, which leaves the city or township unprotected for a certain period of time. We are looking to add additional staffing and would need a levy passed,” Stanish said.

Board member Tanna Angyal said the first step to proceed with the levy will be done this month, which is getting the county auditor to certify the millage, The second reading in July will be to place the issue on the ballot by submitting it to the Trumbull County Board of Elections before the Aug. 2 deadline.

She said it will be necessary to educate the public that if they support a levy, they will not be billed for ambulance service.

“We know we need a levy. We know what we would like to have. Ambulance service is a necessity for the city and township,” Hernandez said.

Stanish said a 5.1-mill levy would generate the funds to get more full-time staff. He said the department is doing whatever it can to keep costs down.,

“We are doing what we can with the funds we have. Part-time staff is not sustainable. It is getting tougher to maintain a staff,” Stanish said.

Angyal said “having part-time is like a band-aid that is not working.”

Hernandez said he would like to see more full-time staff.

Officials said a 1-mill levy generates $239,500 per year and would cost the owner of $100,000 home $35 per year while a 6.5-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $221 per year,

Angyal said a final decision on the exact millage will be made by next week.

The district has a 1.5-mill levy for permanent improvements to buildings that will be up for renewal in 2024. Stanish said that levy covers part-time emergency medical service.

In 2020, the district placed a 1.5-mill levy on the ballot that generates between $310,410 and $362,145.


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