RIO GRANDE — Rio Grande has been able to expand its fire department with the help of a half percent levy on the township’s income tax. Looking ahead, the township hopes to continue expanding the department.
“It’s been a great asset to our department,” Matt Neal of the Rio Grande Fire Department said. “We bought a ladder truck and added an edition to the building to house the ladder truck. With that we were able to double down on payments and pay it off early…which was a milestone for us.”
The truck was paid off a year early, a feat achieved through the help of the levy and fundraising. According to Lane and Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter, the fire department fund raises to purchase equipment.
“We feel we use the people’s money correctly, and doing fundraisers, we’ve put more money away and made more payments,” Easter said. “We were just really proud that we got it paid off a year in advance. That’s a year saving interest for the taxpayers.”
The Rio Grande Police Department also benefits from the levy.
“The police and fire levy is pivotal to the survival of our police department,” Josh Davies, the Rio Grande Police Chief, said. “It provides law enforcement coverage within the village, it also has allowed our department to replace some outdated equipment with new up-to-date equipment. Without the support of our taxpayers these things would not of been possible. With the continued support of our taxpayers we will continue to provide the best protection we can for our community.”
Looking ahead, the fire department hopes that the levy is renewed so that it can continue to serve its community with up-to-date equipment. According to Neal, the fire department serves three-quarters of Racoon township, all of Perry, and the village of Rio Grande.
“Moving forward our plans are we would like to save what we bring on the levy monthly until it runs again in November 2022 and invest in a fuse truck or fire apparatus,” Neal said. “Our average life of our truck is 30 years…It’s not out of the question to have a 50-year-old truck by the time we replace it.”
Not only will this ensure that the department is operating with safety in mind but will also benefit the community. The better equipped a fire department is, the higher rating it receives from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a group that evaluates the safety of living in a given area. According to Neal, higher ISO ratings translate to better insurance options for homeowners.
The levy will appear on the ballot again in the township in 2022.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.