Representatives of Madison County EMD continued to argue that the City of London is ill prepared to establish and fund its own emergency squad, beginning in 2019.
Carla Blazier of the EMD addressed London City Council on Thursday, stating the city does not (and will not) have the money to fund a squad that is based in the fire department.
Blazier said current EMD staff will lose their jobs, although Mayor Pat Closser has argued those employees will be picked up by the city.
She also said the proposed make-up of a London-based squad board does not make sense. And the Madison County Auditor’s Office is unsure when tax collections will start — even if city voters approve a proposed 2-mill levy to fund a London-based squad on Nov. 6.
“They are not sure if collections will start in 2019,” Blazier said. “I don’t see that the money is there.”
Council president Joe Russell reminded Blazier that council has taken no action to secede from Madison County EMD.
“We are only putting it before voters (in November),” he said.
Later, Russell said he attended a Madison County EMD board meeting and asked if the current 3-mill levy that supports the squad could be reduced to 2 mills to avoid possible secession. Any funding shortfall could be made up with money currently held in reserve by the EMD. Russell said the current levy is being collected at about 2.8 mills anyway.
However, EMD board members told him operating on 2 mills could only last a few years and would mandate an eventual return to the 3-mill collection. In addition, most reserve monies must be held for emergency expenditures.
Also on Thursday, Melinda Elliott, owner of Fine Designs Coffee & Gifts on Main Street, asked council to develop “a vision for downtown London” similar to that of other small towns in the area.
“We need to survey residents to see what (kinds of businesses) they would support,” Elliott said.
She asked if downtown London could be included in the Community Reinvestment Area and if owners of downtown buildings could be fined if those structures stand empty for prolonged periods of time.
She also asked who is responsible for maintaining the downtown “tree squares.” She said many are overgrown with weeds and sometimes collect discarded garbage.
The matter of tree square maintenance was referred to the city properties committee.
In other routine business on Thursday, council approved an amended resolution that will put the 2-mill property tax levy to support a London-based emergency squad before city voters on Nov. 6. Wording for the original resolution was incorrect, Russell said.
Additional wording was corrected at a special council meeting on July 30.
According to the Madison County Auditor’s Office, the levy would generate $387,984 annually, assuming property valuations in the city remain stable.