If approved by voters, a ‘lid lift’ allows the fire district to restore the levy rate for emergency services to $1.50 per $1000 of assessed valuation
CAMAS — The Board of Fire Commissioners for East County Fire and Rescue voted unanimously to place a one-year Fire Levy lid lift on the August Primary Election ballot. If approved by voters, a “lid lift” allows the fire district to restore the levy rate for emergency services to $1.50 per $1000 of assessed valuation. The last time voters in East County Fire and Rescue approved a fire levy Lid Lift was in 2008.
The commissioners believe the Fire Levy lid lift is necessary for East County Fire & Rescue to continue essential levels of service. Funding from the lid lift would be used to maintain daily operations and improve emergency service levels, improve firefighter training, and repair equipment and apparatus. The commissioners believe these items also are necessary to maintain the community’s insurance rating, which affects the premiums paid by home and business owners.
RCW 84.55 limits the District to a 1 percent revenue increase per year. Due to the 1 percent limit, most taxpayers are paying less to the fire levy each year as property values increase. The commissioners claim the amount collected by the District is not keeping up with the cost of inflation which is currently 3-4 percent per year. However, they say some costs are increasing at a rate higher than that.
For example, since 2016, fuel costs have increased 47.6 percent for the fire district. The cost for health insurance for district employees has increased 16.8 percent. Higher call volumes also contribute to the amount the fire district pays in increased costs for operations, such as overtime (66 percent higher).
If approved by voters, the lid lift would restore the Fire Levy to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The proposal would be on the Aug. 6 Primary Election ballot and cost 34 cents per $1,000 (or $12.75 per month for the owner of a $450,000 home).
The levy rate has fallen to $1.16/$1,000 in 2019. East County Fire and Rescue is primarily funded through fire levy taxes. Each year the fire district is limited to roughly the same amount of revenue due to the limitations of RCW 84.55.
More information about the lid lift can be found on the fire district’s web site at www.ecfr.us.
Information provided by East County Fire and Rescue.