During this year’s November 8th General Election, Fall City voters in Fire District 27 will be asked to renew the District’s Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levy that ends this year. The levy maintains the District’s current staffing level of 10 full-time firefighters, provides for apparatus and equipment replacement, ensures proper maintenance to facilities, preserves the special operations programs (i.e., swift water rescue) and provides appropriate training levels to ensure firefighter safety.
In 2013 voters approved a three-year M&O levy to stabilize revenues that had been greatly reduced by the recession and Sammamish annexation. The district said while subsequent assessments on property values have increased, its total assessed valuation has declined 22% – or $298 million dollars – since 2009. Because legislation from initiative 747 also limits a Fire District’s regular tax collection increase to 1% of the previous year’s levy, a funding system has resulted that is dependent upon approved ballot measures to increase revenues necessary to maintain service levels and operate within a balanced budget.
The Fire District 27 M&O levy provides 20% of the District’s revenue – and will end this year. Without its renewal, the district says an average yearly budget deficit of $467,000 is projected for the next four years – and it will not be able to maintain current service levels.
Approval of Proposition 1 will authorize the District to renew the yearly excess levy of $475,000 for the next four years. This levy will cost a property owner $3.73 per month for every $100,000 of assessed value or $44.75 per year. [Senior and disabled citizens who qualify for property tax relief are exempt from this levy.]
Fire District 27 employs 10 full-time career firefighter/EMT’s and 16 volunteers provide additional support alongside career firefighters nightly from 6pm – 6am. The district says with this staffing level, it was able to achieve three-person staffing 99% of the time in 2015, which is essential for firefighter safety. In comparison, neighboring fire agencies typically have a crew of 12 career firefighters and provide a minimum of three-person career staffing 100% of the time, at a higher cost compared to Fire District 27.
District 27 says the renewal of the M&O levy will ensure the highest quality emergency service with the quickest response time on every alarm, while also providing for the safety of their firefighters and the citizens they serve.
Additional information is available at king27fire.com.