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Vashon Island Fire & Rescue

Proposition No. 1
Authorizing Restoration of Previous Property Tax Levy Rate

The Board of Fire Commissioners of Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (also known as King County Fire Protection District No. 13) passed Resolution 17-368 concerning the District’s property tax levy rate. If approved, this proposition would allow the District to restore its previously voter-approved tax levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2017 for collection in 2018. The 2018 levy amount would be the base upon which annual increases of up to 6% (but not to exceed a rate of $1.50) would be computed for the succeeding five years (2019 – 2023). The 2023 levy amount would be used for computing the limitations for subsequent levies as allowed by Chapter 84.55 RCW and as provided in Resolution 17-368. Should this proposition be approved?

Approved

Rejected


Vashon Island Fire & Rescue responded to the community’s requests for emergency medical care, fire suppression, rescue, and service 1,617 times last year.  The call volume has increased by 2.5 times since the last levy lid lift.  However, while firefighters are responding to more calls, the voter approved $1.50 fire levy has been reduced to $0.93 due to 1% limitations.   This measure would restore the levy rate to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2018 and then apply a limit factor of 6% in the succeeding five years.

Revenue raised by this measure provides funding for fire protection, fire suppression, fire prevention and other services.  It will help the Department keep up with increased service demand and continue to provide a high level of service to the community.

If approved, this measure authorizes Vashon Island Fire & Rescue to restore the levy to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value as approved by voters. It would allow the levy dollar amount to increase by up to 6% in the succeeding five years, but the rate cannot exceed $1.50 even if properties increase in value.  The dollar amount of the levy in 2023 would be used to calculate future levy increase limits.

 

You take for granted that help will come when you call 9-1-1. But our fire and rescue service is in financial crisis. Quoting Chief Charlie Krimmert: “The costs of the services we provide are more than the revenues we take in. We are about to run out of money.”

Vashon said yes to VIFR’s last tax request 27 years ago. Today, your yes vote restores the $1.50 levy we voted back then. It adds 71 cents a day to an average household tax bill.

VIFR is our island’s 24 hour emergency medical, fire and rescue service. But in the last 27 years, help calls soared from 600+ per year to 1,600+. Four times a week all our on-duty responders are totally committed, leaving no responders for another emergency. Help from the mainland is at least an hour away.

A no vote means VIFR suffers another $1 million+ shortfall in 2018. Staff will be cut, ambulances and engines will go without maintenance; fire stations sold; all reserves exhausted.

A yes vote adds responders and banks reserve funds to replace VIFR’s worn out engines and ambulances.

Your yes vote means responders will continue to come when you call for help.

 

Hard to understand our Fire District.  In 2016, staff said they would lose $400,000 when paramedic services moved to King County.  Now suddenly they are down $1.2 million.  They claim not enough responder staff, but medical calls are only up a little and fire calls are down.  Staff said driving patients off-Island takes three hours, so they began charging for transport, raising $300,000 for 24 part-time staff so full-time responders can stay on-Island.  But now they say doubling staff is not enough.  They complain of volunteer turnover, but established a training program for future professional firefighters which guarantees they will leave for paying jobs.  Response equipment is old and broken and fire stations need repair, they say, but these are long-term capital problems, and they plan to sell rarely used stations.

Nothing much has changed on the Island.  The population has only grown 4% since 2010.

Next year, our property taxes will dramatically go up for education.  The Fire District wants to add more by asking the maximum allowed and the right to another 6% annually.  Responders care about our Island and do a good job, but please vote no until the Fire District matches the facts to their requests.

 

VIFR has the lowest total tax rate of all 28 King County fire districts. Even the restored $1.50 rate raises it only to mid-range. It’s been 27 years since VIFR asked the island for a tax increase. Since then, help calls soared 270%, driving up costs. For years, VIFR made ends meet by draining reserves to meet rising demand but all reserves will be exhausted next year. A yes vote merely restores the 1990 rate.

Submitted by: Rick Wallace, Melinda Powers, Gary Koch, www.RescueVashonFire.org

The Fire District wants the maximum tax increase without offering details.  Remember buying the ladder fire truck, used more for decorating Christmas trees than fighting fires.  Calls have gone up the last 27 years, but the District has also hired 12 full-time responders.  Our property value grew 17% this year, so the real dollar levy cost will be greater than $259.  Some increase might be reasonable, but let’s consider actual needs.   “The sky isn’t falling.”

Submitted by: Alice Larson, reasonablelevy@outlook.com

 Simple majority (RCW 84.55.050)

For questions about this measure, contact: Charles H. Krimmert, Fire Chief, (206) 463-2405 ext. 311, ckrimmert@vifr.org

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