Addison Township officials last week voted 7-0 to place a fire millage proposal on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.
Voters will be asked to approve an eight-year, 0.75-mill property tax to support the fire department’s capital improvement fund. This contains money set aside for everything from purchasing new vehicles and equipment to constructing new stations, if necessary.
“Any big expenditure for the department is usually what we use the capital budget for,” explained Fire Chief Jerry Morawski.
Morawski said the capital millage is “very critical” to the agency because “sooner or later” vehicles and equipment wear out and need to be replaced.
If approved by voters, the 0.75-mill levy would begin in 2017 and end with the December 2024 tax collection.
The ballot proposal represents both a renewal and a slight increase. The department’s current capital millage is set to expire with the December 2016 tax collection.
Over the years, the capital millage has been reduced by the Headlee Amendment to its current rate of 0.732 mill.
Officials are asking residents to raise it back to the original rate of 0.75 mill, which voters approved in August 2008.
One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value.
This is the department’s only capital millage. Its other three millages, which total 2.2373 mills, are all for operating purposes.
Morawski noted there’s simply no room in the existing operating budget to also fund capital improvements. Things are too tight.
The current budget of $908,000 is supporting 11 vehicles, 5 full-time firefighters, 19 paid-on-call firefighters and two stations in Leonard and Lakeville.
“We’re right down to the last penny, so to speak, (when it comes to) the department’s operations,” he said.