When state and national officials want money for government services, they simply enact taxes to provide the funds. It is a much different story at the local level, where voters maintain at least some control over their taxes.
On Monday, Ken Saffell, who is fire chief for the Cumberland Trail Fire District, told members of St. Clairsville Council voters will be asked to authorize a 5-mill replacement levy this fall. Saffell noted the department has a 5-mill levy in place now. "We're not asking for any new money," he emphasized.
Saffell is well aware his department has to provide good fire protection and emergency ambulance services, or voters won't agree to taxes to support the agency.
For many years, residents in the St. Clairsville area - and often, outside it when other departments need "mutual aid" - have been able to rely on the Cumberland Trail Fire Department. The unit provides essential services and spends taxpayers' money efficiently. For that reason, it should not be difficult to convince voters in the fire district to continue providing tax support.
Saffell noted it is becoming increasingly difficult for departments such as his to make ends meet. One concern is the cost of equipment, which is escalating rapidly.
Again, local government agencies such as the fire department must make convincing cases to the public if they are to obtain consent for taxes to support services. That requires a record of good service and careful stewardship of the public's money. Because the Cumberland Trail Fire Department has just such a record, it should have no trouble gaining voter approval this fall.