A lot has changed in the 45 years since the firehouse on Overlook Drive in Crescent Springs was constructed. The firehouse was built to house much smaller fire trucks and a single-gender staff with no sleeping accommodations. An engineering study (https://villahillsky.org/…/crescentsprings…) found that the existing structure was not salvageable. A new facility will provide greater efficiency while keeping the EMTs and firefighters safe.
In order to finance this new facility, a 3% franchise fee will be imposed on your utility bills beginning in mid-2021. The proceeds from this fee will be dedicated solely to paying off the debt incurred.
If you have any questions or concerns, due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID19, we are asking that you either contact Mayor Heather Jansen ([email protected]) or Councilmember, Jim Cahill ([email protected]).
This is to provide further clarification based on questions/concerns that were raised as a result of the update regarding the 3% franchise fee that was approved by Council at the September 2020 meeting. The decision to enact a franchise fee was discussed over many council meetings and finance meetings. As mentioned in the update, the current firehouse is well past its useful life. If you take a look at the condition assessment, you will find a multitude of systemic issues that our volunteer firefighters and EMTs are subjected to every time they come into the building. Additionally, Mayor Jansen discussed the history of the firehouse and its current condition in the September 2020 Villa Hills Crescent Springs Living magazine. She also talked about the progress of the firehouse committee in the newsletter that was mailed with the property tax bills. Hopefully everyone has had a chance to familiarize themselves with the need for a new firehouse.
The City of Villa Hills and the City of Crescent Springs are both contributing to the cost of the new firehouse. Based on several factors, the split between us and Crescents Springs is 60% and 40% respectively. This split has been applied over the course of many years when determining how much each city pays to the Fire Authority every year for the services provided by both the fire department and EMS. This split will ultimately be finalized by the committee that has been working on all facets of the firehouse evaluation process. This committee is comprised of members from Crescent Springs, Villa Hills and the Fire Department and the mayors and several employees of both cities. Both Mayors Hartfiel and Jansen appointed individuals from the fire department and residents of the cities that they felt would be very efficient in moving the process forward. All recommendations from the Firehouse Committee must go before each city’s council for approval before anything is done in furtherance of the construction of the new building.
Ultimately, the enactment of the franchise fee is not a done deal. City Council and staff are working to set up a potential for the 3% franchise fee on Duke bills. Unlike property taxes, there would not be exemptions from paying this fee; it would be applied to residences and businesses alike. If the new firehouse construction is not ultimately approved, the franchise fee will not be enacted. If the construction is approved, it will; but not until first or second quarter 2021. Council did not approve to enact the fee just for the sake of generating tax revenue. All fees collected will be designated only to paying off the debt incurred from the construction of the new firehouse.
The current Council that was voted in two years ago and are running again this upcoming election are committed to transparency in government as well as, continuing to provide the exceptional services that are deserved by the residents of our city. This includes ensuring that our volunteer fire department and EMTs have a facility that will keep them safe before, during and after they return from fighting a fire or treating medical concerns. The current firehouse can no longer do this.
Further, Council requested that the update be posted about the franchise fee in order to continue to keep the residents informed of the decisions that are being made by Council. While the determination to enact the franchise fee could have been included only within the minutes of the meetings in which it was discussed and voted on, Council asked that more should be done to let the residents know. They want the residents to be aware of what is being discussed and decided on during the meetings. They want transparency in government decisions. This transparency is what the residents voted for two years ago.