Strongsville voters have rejected Issue 49, a new tax that would have helped pay for additional firefighters and firefighting equipment.
By Bob Sandrick, special to cleveland.com
Updated Nov 10, 2020; Posted Nov 10, 2020
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — The city is evaluating its Fire Department staffing levels, resources and finances this week after voters rejected Issue 49, a property tax increase that would have helped pay for additional firefighters and firefighter-paramedic equipment. That’s what Fire Chief Jack Draves told cleveland.com Monday (Nov. 9).
Council President Matt Schonhut and Matt Kasza, president of the Strongsville Fire Fighters Association, didn’t return emails. Councilwoman Kelly Kosek said she had no comment. “There are adequate firefighters on duty to provide for the safety of the community,” Draves said. “Staffing remains unchanged and fluctuates daily, depending on available personnel. “Overtime to backfill unscheduled absences remains suspended,” Draves said. “No full-time firefighters have been laid off or furloughed.”
According to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Issue 49 failed by a vote of 13,882 to 11,825. Fifty-four percent of voters opposed the levy and 46 percent supported it.
The 2.5-mill tax levy, which council in July voted unanimously to place on the Nov. 3 ballot, would have allowed the city to hire 20 additional full-time firefighter-paramedics, some of whom would have served in a proposed fifth fire station in the center of town.
The tax increase would have generated about $4 million annually. It would have cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $87.50 a year and the owner of a home valued at $300,000 an additional $262.50 a year, according to Draves.
In August, Schonhut said the city’s fire department is understaffed as the number of emergency calls rises. He said he supported the levy and a fifth fire station because fire department response times to the center of town are too long.
Kasza said the union supported the levy, the hiring of additional full-time firefighters and construction of a fifth fire station. Draves said the city and firefighters have discussed a fifth station for several years.