Clinton, Fulton townships asking for levies

By David J. Coehrs -

Clinton and Fulton townships will ask voters next Tuesday to approve new levies, one to create a cemetery maintenance fund and the other to even out the residential cost of fire services.

Clinton Township has placed a five-year, 0.15-mill levy on the May 4 ballot to allow the trustees to create a fund specifically for maintaining the township’s five cemeteries. Generating about $31,000 annually, it would end a longtime practice of tapping into the township’s reserves for upkeep of two Pettisville cemeteries, Aeschliman’s Cemetery on County Road C, Bayes Cemetery on County Road F, and a fifth cemetery on County Road 16 near County Road C, about a half-mile west of Wauseon’s city limits.

“We have absolutely no money coming in for (cemetery) maintenance,” Clinton Township Trustee Rick Frey said. “They’re not enormous but they do take time, and there is maintenance to be done.”

The levy does not include Wauseon Union Cemetery, which generates money separately.

The decision to place the cemetery levy on May’s ballot was roundly approved by Frey and fellow trustees Ivan Hite and Larry Neuenschwander after they were forced one year ago to dip into the township’s general fund for $1,000 in concrete foundation work at one of the cemeteries.

“It kind of came to a head when we had to spend all that money on concrete,” Frey said. “There isn’t money to come out specifically for the cemeteries. All these added expenses just kind of overwhelms at times.”

The proposed new levy wouldn’t start generating revenue until January of 2022, but Frey said a cemetery fund would staunch the bleeding from the general fund, allowing that money to be used for other necessary purposes.

“We’ll just take the money out of the proper place,” Frey said. “I hate to see taxes go up, and I know Larry and Ivan are the same way, but this seemed to be the most simplest way.”

Clinton Township has also placed a five-year, 0.3-mill replacement levy on the ballot for current expenses. Frey said the levy, which generates $61,839 annually, has to be replaced every five years and has been a ballot staple for decades. “I’ve not ever known it to not pass,” he said.

Fulton Township will include a proposed five-year, 1-mill fire levy on Tuesday’s ballot so that Village of Swanton residents will no longer pay overlapping taxes for fire services to both the village and the township.

Scheduled to generate approximately $94,280 annually, the new levy is the culmination of an agreement between the township and the Village of Swanton. It would collect approximately $35,020 within the village limits and $59,260 in Fulton Township outside the city limits.

Should the levy pass, Swanton has offered a verbal agreement to rescind the collection of taxes for fire service from Fulton Township residents inside the village, according to Julie Szabo, Fulton Township fiscal officer. Those residents would pay only for the township levy.

“The village is committed to examining the financial burden of our taxpayers to see if there are ways to alleviate some of that,” Swanton Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said. She said the plan came together during a meeting in July of 2020 involving officials from Swanton and Fulton and Swancreek townships. Swancreek Township ultimately decided to not propose a new fire levy.

The Swanton Fire Department responds to calls in both Fulton and Swancreek townships.

“It gets the same price for everybody across the board,” Fulton Township Trustee Joe Gombash said of the proposed levy. “Right now, the people of the village are actually double-taxed.”

The levy terms between the township and village has been an argument for years, and it is finally being resolved, Gombash said. “It’s just making it more fair for everybody,” he said.

Fulton Township already has two active fire levies collectively generating approximately $163,705 annually.

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.