Aquilla Residents to Vote on Replacement Fire Levy
September 10, 2021 by Ann Wishart

Action taken by Aquilla Village Council last spring led them to place a 5.3-mill fire levy on the November ballot.

Action taken by Aquilla Village Council last spring led them to place a 5.3-mill fire levy on the November ballot.

If passed, the replacement levy would cost taxpayers $185.50 per $100,000 property valuation, according to the Geauga County Auditor’s Office. Yield for the replacement levy would be about $24,976 per year at 100% collection starting in 2022.

The levy is a replacement of the 5.3-mill levy property owners in Aquilla and Claridon Township have been paying to Claridon, said Aquilla Village Fiscal Officer Cheryl McNulty.

Because the levy is new money, the 12.5% rollback paid by the state would not be in effect, she said.

Also, the property tax would be applied to current property values, not those from when the old levy was passed. If the levy passes, property owners would see an increase in their taxes, she said.

In April, village council voted to create Aquilla Township in the same footprint as the village, but without a township government. In effect, Aquilla Village became a separate taxing municipality from the township and was therefore entitled to its own inside millage.

Until the village becomes independent of Claridon Township sometime in the next year, the unvoted inside millage collected by Geauga County will continue to be issued to Claridon, which traditionally shared it with Aquilla Village.

In March, when Aquilla Village solicitor Jim Gillette presented the request to Geauga County Commissioners, he said council decided to petition the county to detach from Claridon and form a “paper township” in order to receive additional tax revenue from 10 mills of inside millage, which equates to more than $10,000 per year.

The separation process, which must go through the state, would increase Claridon’s revenue from $11,781 to $14,137, said a representative of the auditor’s office, adding the process could take until 2022 and Aquilla would have to make arrangements for services — in particular fire protection.

Gillette said Aquilla would see its revenue go up from about $2,000 to more than $13,000.

The village budget is about $30,000, so the decision would increase the village coffers by almost 40% to cover the cost of fire protection, according to the auditor’s office.

Fire protection for the village and the township has been through Claridon Township, which has a contract with the Chardon Fire Department. Sometime in the future, Aquilla Village would be securing its own coverage through Chardon Fire Department, McNulty said.

“Once the separation is complete, the levy (for Aquilla residents) ceases to exist,” she said, which means the village would have to contract separately for fire and emergency medical service.