Another Viewpoint Regarding Concord Township Issue 1
Written by Stephen Lee
Submitted October 29, 2020
The upcoming election represents enormous consequences, certainly on a national level but there are many important local issues as well. And none are more contested than the Issue 1 tax levy being put forth by the trustees of Concord Township to fund a single, exorbitant fire station when both of our community’s stations sorely need to be replaced. And beyond the inappropriate size and cost of the proposed fire stations is the misdirected attempt of our trustees to try and fund this capital project with yet another tax increase.
Factual information is critical for Concord’s voters to be able to support the needs of our first responders, but in a way that taps into other available funding sources and not another rush to burden the residents of this relatively small community with additional taxes.
And the frustrating part of this whole debate is it is nearly the exact same as we at Affordable Concord Taxes (ACT) and our many supporters addressed just one year ago. But in that case, more than 65% of Concord’s voters sent a very clear message to the trustees and Township administration that we refused to pay any more additional taxes and we expected the trustees to go back to the drawing table and present revised plans that were more reasonable and cost-effective – all in line with the size and emergency service needs of a township the size of Concord.
And yet, here we are again. They’ve proposed the same enormous stations and want to raise residents’ taxes for 26 years. The trustees talk about the monthly payment per household will be small, but $1600 over the life of the levy is a lot. It’s important to note that many residents chose the semi-rural lifestyle and benefits of our township because of the lower taxes and with the idea they would retire here, meaning they would be dependent on lower income levels then.
So the facts are important but unfortunately, and just like the national presidential election, there are many claims of “fake news” by the Township.
Here are the facts:
Fact No. 1: The $8 million tax levy will only pay for one enormous $8.8 million main station and the Township plans to spend a total of $13.75 million for both stations.
Fact No. 2: The trustees can build both new fire stations economically, starting with Station No. 2, without raising taxes. Their own financial presentation on July 14,2020 showed the way forward. And they would still have more than $600,000 annually for any emergency expense.
Fact No. 3: The trustees are asking citizens to fund the stations, so they have a large “slush fund” for other unpopular township projects. The trustees collect more than $1 million of special business and employee taxes each year. Over the 26-year levy, that’s $26 million for their “other projects,” such as the restarted Town Center on Capital Parkway.
Fact No. 4: Concord’s plan is excessive compared to fire stations built in the last two years in similar Ohio townships. Concord is a township and it’s not appropriate to compare the cost for stations to cities or municipalities. Other townships we’ve talked to spend $100 to $200 less per square foot on their stations and still provide premiere safety features for their first responders.
ACT strongly encourages the residents of Concord Township to defeat Issue 1 and send a clear message to our elected officials – once again – to meet the safety service needs of our community in a more fiscally responsible manner.