Voters on Tuesday gave strong support to a levy for the Spokane Valley Fire Department that will fund salaries, equipment, fire engines and capital projects.
The $113 million maintenance and operations levy, approved by 74 percent of voters, will be spread across four years and replaces an expiring levy passed by voters in 2015.
“I think when we see support like that from the community we serve, it just validates the hard work that the firefighters and everyone in our organization does day in and day out and the value the public sees in the services we provide,” said Spokane Valley Fire Chief Bryan Collins.
The new levy tax rate will be $1.90 per $1,000 of assessed home value – a 10 cent increase over the department’s expiring levy. It will cost an owner of a $200,000 home around $380 per year.
The maintenance and operations levy funds 54 percent of the fire department’s annual operating budget, which includes firefighter salaries and day-to-day expenses. It supports more than 200 first responders and administrative staff as well as 10 fire stations and 56 response vehicles.
The department said the replacement levy, which takes effect in 2020, is integral to maintaining the department’s level of service for more than 125,000 citizens in Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood and parts of unincorporated Spokane County.
The levy will fund replacement of aging fire trucks, emergency equipment and an additional alternative response unit – a smaller vehicle staffed with a firefighter and paramedic who respond to non-life threatening medical calls.
“We’re very grateful to our citizens, who voted to support our maintenance and operations levy, so we can continue to provide the level of service that we’ve provided in the last four years,” said Spokane Valley Fire Commissioner Patrick Burch.
Collins said the department will continue to focus on goals in its five-year strategic plan.
“It’s really important for us as an organization to keep our promise to the community and do what we said what we’re are going to do with the money they’ve entrusted with us,” he said.
The department plans to build a new fire station near Barker Road and Euclid Avenue and make minor renovations to the Sullivan Fire Station, such as construction of an entry way providing citizens with a “24/7 safe zone,” which is a feature in all other Spokane Valley fire stations.
The department is building the Barker Road station to keep up with expected growth in the rapidly expanding northeast industrial area.
Katerra is building a large, cross-laminated timber facility and the city is examining an ordinance that would streamline permits for future businesses looking to relocate to the northeast industrial area.
The department anticipates hiring 12 firefighters to staff the new fire station in 2022 and will construct a new fleet maintenance center to replace its existing 25-year-old facility, which would still be used for training.
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