The March 14 meeting for Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) included presentations from both Mayor William Snavely and Oxford City Councilor Jason Bracken about the funding issues facing the Oxford Fire Department.
“The fire department is currently down six firefighters and EMS (emergency medical services) responders,” Snavely said. “We have what’s needed for minimal community service.”
Snavely said the Oxford Fire Department covers not only Oxford but the neighboring townships as well. These townships are then billed by the fire department for the percentage of responses that go to those areas. This is calculated based on the total number of calls.
Miami is not included in this percentage-paying system because the university falls under Oxford city limits. With the mass amount of calls sent to campus, the fire department does not see compensation for those runs.
This lack of revenue also stems from Miami being a state school. By being a state school, Miami does not pay property tax on any of its lands. Bracken said Miami-owned land makes up approximately 60% of all land in Oxford city limits.
“What I would like to see, if it’s possible, is for Miami to contribute to the fire and EMS services,” Bracken said. “If you divide up the taxes to everyone that lives here permanently, it's much larger than if you divide it up against the entire Miami population.”
The issue of income tax also affects the revenue going to the fire department. Students make up a large amount of the citizens within the city limits, but they are less likely to contribute to the city's income through property and income taxes.
With the students unable to contribute to income, the weight falls on Miami’s shoulders.
“If Miami is unable to contribute to our fire and EMS, we may come to a point where we say that our fire and EMS will only go outside of the university boundaries,” Snavely said. “That's a drastic step. I don't think it's one that we want [or] the university wants to go through, but we may have no choice.”
City Council has put thought into an alternative to contributions from the university. This problem is not exclusive to Oxford; other college towns have had to deal with this issue as well, Bracken said.
“I’m currently reaching out to other cities about how they handle this when they have big college communities,” Bracken said. “There are schools, definitely not a majority, that do have their own fire department. That is something being considered.”
After the presentations from Snavely and Bracken, ASG senators approved a resolution to send a video to Michigan State University to share condolences and resources. The resolution passed unanimously.
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“The Associated Student Government offers its support to the students of MSU, residents of East Lansing, the surrounding community and the families of the victims,” the resolution says.
With the resolution, ASG will also post mental health resources on its website and social media accounts.
ASG also passed a resolution encouraging Miami to establish Election Day as a campus holiday. The resolution was presented in cooperation with data collected through the Wilks Institute for Leadership and Service, and it passed with 27 yeses and six nos.
Ninety percent of the students that responded to the survey either strongly or somewhat support having Election Day as a campus holiday.
“This opens up the campus for a broader democratic engagement,” said Annable DeChant, a Wilks civic engagement fellow.
ASG will hold its next meeting at 6 p.m. on March 28 in the Joslin Senate Chamber in Armstrong Student Center.