SIDNEY — Voters in the city of Sidney rejected the city’s 0.15 percent municipal income tax fire levy on Tuesday. The levy was to provide permanent funding for fire department operations.
The unofficial total for the levy was 1,493 votes for and 2,140 votes against the levy.
The original 0.30 percent income tax levy, which intended to help address fire operation needs, was first presented on the ballot in May when it was combined with street maintenance needs. The levy was to replace the current 0.25 percent municipal street levy that will expire Dec. 31, 2019. It was voted down in May and brought back to voters a second time after being separated from the streets’ needs.
Results of Tuesday’s election will be certified Nov. 18 by the Shelby County Board of Elections.
“We will do the best with what we have,” Fire Chief Brad Jones said after the last precinct results were received.
“Sidney Fire will still go to work tomorrow,” Deputy Fire Chief Chad Hollinger added.
Jones said, “The doors will still be open tomorrow and we will still respond to 911 calls.”
“I don’t know,” Jones said, when asked if the levy would be brought forth again in a future election.
“I’m always disappointed when an essential levy fails. Response time matters, and during my many years at Lehman High School, I waited on first responders on many occasions. On two of those instances, the individuals passed away before help could arrive. The need for an additional station was first identified four decades ago. That need has not gone away. I know the firefighters and paramedics will continue to do the best they can every time the alarm rings. Unfortunately, there will be those instances when they simply won’t be able to get there in time. It’s that simple,” Mayor Mike Barhorst said after the results came in.
City Manager Mike Cundiff said, “The fire station is a concept (citizens) have to understand. We think it would make the community safer to have more fire staffing.”
The next steps for the fire levy will be discussed at Monday’s City Council meeting on Nov. 11.
This was the first time the voters were asked to approve a permanent fire operations levy as a single issue on the ballot.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.