Levy for county-wide MARCS system a topic at Union City Council meeting


UNION CITY, Ohio — According to the Village of Union City, Ohio, Police Chief Mark Ater, if the .45-mill proposed levy the Darke County Board of Commissioners approved to be placed on November’s ballot fails, the city is going to be in “big trouble,” he said at an August 7 council meeting.

The levy will generate about $572,000, costing the voters around $15.30 more a year, in taxes, for a $100,000 residential property. The levy has no end date. The money raised will be spent on such equipment as MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communication System) radios, pagers, mobiles and portables, a system projected to be implemented fully by the Darke County Sheriff’s Office by April 2018. The goal is to have all emergency agencies on the same radio system.

“If this levy doesn’t pass, everything we purchase is going to have to come out of our own pocket,” Chief Ater said. “The donated items we are using from the ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) will eventually time out or stop working. That stuff will need replaced, and it is not cheap.”

Chief Ater said obviously, the levy is a tax increase.

“But at the end of the day if we don’t have it, it’s going to kill our budget,” he said. “The county is trying to implement MARCS as an umbrella to take care of everyone. I think with social media and different entities saying they budgeted it for it; that is all fine and good. But we don’t have as big of a budget as other city departments have, nor do any of these other small towns. If the levy passes, and something wears out in the department, we will be able to tap into that.”

“I hope people support the levy and know that is the only way we are going to be able to communicate with police, fire and emergency medical services,” Ater said. “No matter what else is being said on the political home front, we have to worry about the best interest of public safety. Our tower is up right now, and it is a matter of programming and flipping a switch. If it takes us to knock on doors; we will do that. It is going to be life or death at the end of the day. We need to educate people about the seriousness of the situation. It is a matter of peoples’ public safety. The community we serve will suffer if we are unable to do our job. We will do whatever we have to do to encourage people to vote for the levy.”

Darke County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker said at Monday’s Communication Meeting, that there are two scenarios with which the county is faced.

“One is the levy passes scenario, which is the best-case scenario,” Chief Whittaker said. “The levy doesn’t pass is the worst-case scenario. If the levy fails, the transition will be in play. At that point, all of the individual agencies — the vast majority will be right back to square one and it will fall on them. All the things we were hoping to avoid will come to fruition. Unfortunately, that is the problem. What happens with the small departments that don’t have the money?”

The issue will appear on the ballots of Darke County residents November 7.

By Carolyn Harmon

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The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.

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