Fire department levy expected for March ballot in WA

By Austin Schmidt -

WEST ALEXANDRIA — West Alexandria Village Council approved resolution 2015-11 during a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 30, to move forward with placing a levy to fund construction of a new fire and EMS station within the village on the March ballot.

The proposed levy will be a 3-mill continuing levy. According to village solicitor Rick Faber, this means the levy will run for a continuing amount of time until council elects to re-vote on it, or a ballot petition is completed by citizens.

Faber estimated the levy will bring in about $52,000 a year.

County Auditor Lavon Wright said if the levy were to pass, a home with the assessed value of $80,000 will pay $84 a year.

“The regular levy over the bond gives us a chance to pay it off early, as opposed to a bond which would have to go the entire term,” West Alexandria Fire and EMS Chief Jeff Shaffer said afterwards.

The levy is expected raise around $850,000 as the West Alexandria Fire and EMS department will be attempting to raise a third of the $1.2 million project through fundraisers and private donations, according to Shaffer.

The department will also be looking to obtain a temporary construction loan from the USDA, a government-funded group which specializes in low interest loans for small government entities, Shaffer said.

During the meeting, village administrator Chris Day explained the loan process: “It just gives you flexibility — they understand most government entities do not have the funds to get the design done on the front end, so they created the process of loaning the money for the design phase of it, then when you go out and secure finances, you have more than just a concept. That’s why it is there and I don’t know too many government entities that don’t function that way, even if they have the money up front.”

The loan, according to Shaffer, will allow the village to receive money for construction prior to collecting the levy which will then go toward paying back the loan. The first levy collection will come in the early part of 2017, according to Faber.

Shaffer noted the department must go through an application process and be approved for the loan before it can be obtained.

According to Shaffer, if the levy were to pass, construction of the building could start almost right away despite the first levy collection not coming until a year later.

“With the option of paying it off early, to me that just excites me more,” Shaffer said. He continued, “If we get this paid off in 20 years we save a ton of interest and we can take off the levy after that.” He estimated if the department raised his goal of $500,000, the village would save $24,000 a year.

By Austin Schmidt

Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062.

Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062.