October 18, 2007 in Voices

Fire department requests levy lid lift

By The Spokesman-Review


Freeman School Board race, Page 4

One of the most significant public safety measures before Spokane Valley voters this fall has carried a fairly low profile.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is asking for a six-year levy lid lift, arguing that the additional revenue will help the department keep up with growth in both population and 911 calls.

While a volunteer authored a statement supporting the measure in the county voter’s guide, Chief Mike Thompson said the department couldn’t find anyone willing to write an argument against it.

Although other jurisdictions like the library district have pursued lid lifts recently, the fire district’s request is novel in that that it will raise money for buildings.

Usually governments use bonds and other types of government debt to fund large capital projects, but fire commissioners are optimistic they can build or upgrade a number of new fire stations with money from their existing levy if a lid lift is passed.

The department’s tax rate has fallen in recent years as property values rose and state law limited increases in total tax collections to one percent over the previous year. The lid lift enables the district to exceed the 1 percent cap on revenue increases for six years. As a result, the levy rate next year would increase from $1.23 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1.50. That translates to an additional $54 in taxes per year on a $200,000 house.

When they voted to place the measure on the ballot, fire commissioners said the lid lift would save money in the long run because the district would likely not be paying interest on bonds to finance new stations in the coming years.

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