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Posted on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Chelsea Area Fire Authority board plans 1.8 mill renewal request on November ballot

By Lisa Allmendinger

The Chelsea Area Fire Authority (CAFA) board is moving forward with a 1.8 millage renewal request on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If approved, this would extend the current millage another five years through 2018, and continue to pay for round-the-clock first responder emergency services, which include fire and emergency medical services.


Lisa Allmendinger |

“It’s important that voters know that this is a millage renewal and not a new millage,” said Jamie Bollinger, one of five members of the CAFA board.

Chelsea has had a fire department since 1881, while the regional fire authority, which brought together the city, Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan townships, began in 1999. Voters in these towns have a say in the ballot proposal and if approved, taxpayers would see the same millage amount on their tax bills that they’ve seen for the past five years.

Should it not pass, the CAFA board is also formulating alternate ways to fund area-wide fire operations. Previously, each municipality’s portion of the total cost of fire services was determined by a five-year average of the numbers of fire runs made into each entity. Then, each town made a decision whether to pay for these services through their general funds or charge residents a special fire assessment. Millages are tax deductible, board members said, while special assessments are not.

The current millage expires in 2013, and was first approved 1,209 votes to 1,005 votes in 2009.

During that May 2009 election, Chelsea, Lima and Lyndon voters approved the measure, while Sylvan Township voters narrowly defeated it by just 6 votes.

Currently, CAFA has a full-time chief, three captains, three lieutenants and six firefighters as well as a part-time officer manager who works about 25 hours a week and 12 available paid-on-call firefighters.

Renewal of the millage means that homeowners pay $1.80 for each $1,000 of taxable value or $180 a year for a house with a taxable value of $100,000.

In addition, the Chelsea Downtown Development Authority captures about $26,000 a year from properties in the DDA district, CAFA Board Chairman Rod Anderson said, adding that the DDA board has used some of that money to assist CAFA in paying for enhancements to the property at 200 W. Middle St.

For example, he said, the DDA board approved and paid for the recent resurfacing of the fire station parking lot.

The official ballot language must be submitted to the county by Aug. 28 for the Nov. 6 election.

In the meantime, it’s expected that there will be a website developed to explain the millage renewal, a committee is being formed to answer voter’s questions and advocate for its approval and a flyer is in the works that will provide additional information.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.