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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Newman Lake fire bond returns, with changes

After losing a 2011 bond measure, Newman Lake Fire and Rescue promised to get its finances in order.

The fire district serving the northeastern portion of rural Spokane County restructured the volunteer department, paid off long-term debt and now is back with another ballot request this month that’s only about half the size of the earlier one.

“People realize we need to replace the existing station,” said Deb Davis, chairwoman of Citizens for Newman Lake Fire and Rescue. “Hopefully, this time they’ll see the changes that have been made and the commitment to use existing revenue to pay for as much of the project as possible.”

Voters in Fire Protection District No. 13 are being asked to approve a $1.1 million bond issue, which would increase property taxes about $31 per $100,000 of assessed value over 20 years. It requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

The bond would cover about half the cost of replacing the district’s aging fire station, which fails to meet safety standards and lacks room for training or proper handling of contaminated equipment.

The rest of the project would be paid for with existing tax revenue, said Fire Chief Keith Yamane, noting that department’s reserves have been built up to nearly $1 million over the past six years.

The district already owns 12 acres at the southeast corner of Starr and Moffat roads where the new station would be built.

The new station would include training and meeting rooms where community CPR classes could be taught, truck bays large enough to accommodate modern firefighting and emergency response apparatus, and a disaster shelter that would be available to the community in times of distress, according to the district.

Sleeping quarters also would be included at the new station, which would enable the district to accommodate a residential program that could be used to improve response times as the Newman Lake area continues to grow.

“The existing station is bursting at the seams after 48 years of use and community growth,” said commission Chairwoman Kathleen M. Small, who noted there’s no room to expand the building. “We’re trying to shove 25 pounds of potatoes into a 5-pound sack.”

Ballots were mailed this week and must be postmarked or returned by April 22.