Our fire district, South King Fire & Rescue, encompassing Des Moines, Federal Way and parts of King County, needs our help. Everyone knows that the economy the last few years has been in the dump. But, not everyone knows that our fire district operating funds come solely from property taxes and with property values decreasing 20% or more, it’s obvious that the district must tighten its belt.
And, that is what it has done. They have greatly reduced operating expenses. This includes the reduction of 23 personnel including 13 firefighter/EMTs and a closure of one full-time aid car and a half-time aid car. We were fortunate that the District Commissioners decided some years ago to establish a “rainy day” fund for just such a scenario that we are now experiencing. Unfortunately, the economic picture is not going to get better anytime soon and the “capital reserves” are just about depleted.
Thus, to help the district maintain the level of safety that we have all come to expect, they have put Prop One on the ballot for the April 17, 2012 election. This four (4) year excess levy will allow the district to bridge the gap between current funding and the actual cost of operating at an efficient level for our community and our firefighters. The levy will collect a fixed amount of $3.5 million each year. This is equivalent to an additional $0.29 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. A $200,000 home will pay less than $5 per month (about $58 a year) along with their current assessment.
I hope voters get involved in the election process and vote yes for Prop One. With the passing of this levy, our department’s tax rate will still remain lower than most neighboring jurisdictions, while retaining the distinction of being the only fire district in the history of the State to have been awarded a Class 2 insurance rating. This means lower insurance rates for businesses. By voting yes we are voting to maintain fast response times to Fire and Emergency Medical Services so vitally important to our community.
Wayne S. Corey
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