December 4, 2010 in Washington Voices

Valley Fire OKs budget less tax levy increase

Omitting rate raise due to dropping property value
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane Valley Fire Department Commissioners recently approved a 2011 budget that does not include an increase in the property tax levy.

The levy rate is unchanged because the assessed property value in the department’s area is expected to drop, said fire Chief Mike Thompson. The department is usually allowed a 1 percent annual increase.

“We were at the max anyway and with the assessed value dropping we had no room for even 1 percent,” Thompson said.

The approved 2011 budget is $33.3 million, which includes the construction of a new administration building next to Station 8 and a new burn room for training. Station 8 is north of Interstate 90 at 2110 N. Wilbur Road, just west of Pines Road. Those projects are estimated to cost $4.7 million.

Without the construction factored in the 2011 budget is actually $1 million lower than the 2010 budget of $29.5 million. This year the department has finished construction of the new Greenacres Fire Station, formed a swift water rescue team and launched an arson dog program.

The department maintains a reserve fund of at least 25 percent of the annual budget and will surpass that percentage in 2011.

Other than the construction, few other new items are in the budget. The department will replace 18 mobile data computers that are reaching the end of their life span. There also are plans to buy about $8,000 worth of water rescue equipment and update computer software. Two staff vehicles are scheduled for replacement in 2011, but no new fire engines will be purchased.

The department has also projected a tentative 2012 budget of $32.2 million that includes construction of a new Station 6 at 6306 E. Sprague Ave. to make sure there are enough funds to pay for construction even with falling property values. “We didn’t want to get ourselves caught short in our reserves,” said Thompson during a public hearing on the budget last month.


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