STEUBENVILLE - The city firefighters union has endorsed the renewal of the 5-mill real estate levy.
"We have talked about the need to renew the levy and wholeheartedly support the levy," announced Chris Blackburn, president of Local 228 of the International Association of Firefighters.
"We know the levy is crucial for the future of the city, and we are urging our friends and neighbors to vote for the renewal of the levy. The levy helps to support our fire department as well as the police department. It helps us do our jobs," remarked Blackburn.
According to city officials, the levy raises approximately $575,000 a year for the city's general fund.
The levy was first placed before city voters in the early 1960s and has been renewed every five years since the first vote.
"All three of the city unions have worked with the administration to help get through the tough economic times we have faced. During our last contract talks, the firefighters gave up a scheduled pay raise to maintain our current staffing numbers because we believed it was the right thing to do," said Blackburn.
"The firefighters were able to secure a Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency grant that went into effect in March 2011. That allowed us to hire three firefighters to staff our fire stations. That was a major step by our department to assist the city," remarked Blackburn.
"We have now applied for another SAFER grant to keep those three firefighters working and possibly obtain funding to hire additional firefighters. If we are successful in obtaining the grant it will actually be a grant for the city residents because it ensures adequate protection for our residents," noted Blackburn.
"The city real estate levy should be renewed and we encourage city voters to approve the levy renewal. We are all doing our part to keep the city safe. The levy and hopefully the SAFER grant will help us to do our jobs," declared Blackburn.
"A 'yes' vote on Issue 3 will be a vote in favor of safety in our community," added Blackburn.