Spokane County Fire District 5 wants to provide a higher level of service to the northern parts of the West Plains as fire risk increases with development and a growing population.
The district is asking voters for a property tax levy increase of $0.46 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to fund equipment and facilities improvements.
“We’ll get there faster with more resources,” fire Commissioner Larry Edmonds said.
The levy increase would be in effect from 2020-35 if Measure 1 is approved on the Aug. 6 primary ballot.
It would cost taxpayers about $50 per $100,000 of valuation each year, but Edmonds said the cost of the levy would be offset by reductions in most homeowners’ fire insurance premiums.
The total levy of $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed valuation would generate an additional $50,000 per year for an annual total of $189,000, Edmonds said.
With the money, the fire district plans to purchase a four-wheel drive tactical wildfire tender capable of hauling and pumping water and two 3,000-gallon water tankers. The fire district also plans to build a fire vehicle garage and refurbish an aging 3,000-gallon tanker.
The tactical tender and garage would each cost about $100,000, while the tanker acquisitions and rehabilitation would each cost between $30,000 and $40,000, according to Edmonds.
At its two stations the district has two fire engines, three tactical tenders, five brush trucks and one medical response vehicle. Its part-time chief and approximately 20 volunteers respond to an average of 80 calls a year.
Voters rejected a levy increase of the same amount in 2017, with nearly 60 percent, or 227 residents, saying no. About 2,000 people, or 900 families, live in the district, Edmonds said.
Edmonds said voters have to understand that not all taxes are bad.
“We save lives and basically in this case the premium reduction is greater than the tax for most people,” he said.
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