By Pat Jenkins
South Pierce Fire and Rescue will be asking its voters to approve a six-year emergency-services lid lift levy when they begin casting ballots later this month in the general election.
Officials for the fire district that serves an area of 138 square miles say the proposition, if approved, would maintain the current level of fire protection, fire prevention and rescue services at the levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation districtwide. The measure also calls for an annual increase in the levy dollar amount of up to 6 percent of assessed valuation for the years 2018 through 2023.
State law requires voter approval of any increase in tax revenue of more than 1 percent over the previous year. Voters previously approved South Pierce Fire’s current levy rate of $1.50. Now they’re being asked to keep that rate in place.The dollar amount of the levy in the sixth year would be the base for calculating 1 percent increases in the years ahead, officials said.
“This is not a new tax,” wrote levy supporters Roy Kadow, Janet McLaughlin-Dorothy and Gerry Garrison in a pro-levy statement for the Pierce County voters pamphlet. “It is a re-authorization of the current state limit for a (fire district). Because of the levy lid law in our state, the district can only collect $1.41 per $1,000 AV. Voters must approve any measure to make up the difference.”
According to the levy backers, passage of the measure would add $28.27 a year to the property-tax bill for a home valued at $300,000, for example. “That's an additional $2.40 per month for your fire service,” wrote Kadow, McLaughlin-Dorothy and Garrison.
If the measure passes, South Pierce Fire’s current level of service will continue, officials said. If it fails, service could diminish as the district experiences an approximate revenue loss of $253,000 in the first year alone, officials said.
South Pierce Fire and Rescuer (Fire District 17) covers a combined population of more than 22,000 in unincorporated Pierce County, including Clear Lake, Ohop Lake, La Grande, Roy, Lacamas, Harts Lake and McKenna. The district also manages the Town of Eatonville’s fire protection services. The town isn’t annexed into the district, leaving voters there out of the levy decision. Only voters in the district will have a say.
The county elections department will mail ballots to voters on Oct. 20. Voting will end Nov. 7.
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