Voters on Tuesday approved Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane County Fire District 8 levies that will allow each department to fund day-to-day operations, upgrade facilities and buy new equipment.
In Spokane Valley, the four-year, $25 million maintenance and operations levy received 67.3% approval while 68.3% voted in favor of Fire District 8’s four-year, $12 million levy.
“This is huge for us,” Spokane Valley Fire Chief Frank Soto Jr. said.
In 2022, Spokane Valley voters paid a combined total of $2.71 per $1,000 for the regular and maintenance and operations levy. That will drop to $2.58 per $1,000 for the next four years starting in 2024. The new levy will replace one that expires this year.
Soto previously told The Spokesman-Review that the needs of the department continue to increase because of the rising population and increased number of calls for service.
The department responded to more than 23,000 calls in 2022, a 5% increase over 2021. Overall, calls have increased by 79% in the past five years, Soto said.
With the levy’s passage, Soto said he plans to boost advanced life support services at two stations by hiring more paramedics. The department also needs to replace old equipment and trucks and four stations need to be remodeled, he said.
He also wants to replace the 30-year-old training facility and 36-year-old training tower with a new training facility at Barker Road and Garland Avenue.
As for Fire District 8, which serves south of the Spokane and Spokane Valley city limits, the cost of the levy will be 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, putting the price at $16.68 per month for a home valued at $400,000.
The levy will help continue the district’s level of service and make improvements to stations and equipment.
The district responded to 4,248 calls for service last year.
District 8 Fire Chief Lonnie Rash said the levy allows the district to maintain staffing levels and enhance staffing levels in the near future. It also will allow the district to make improvements to fire stations and equipment.
“All of those things allow us to continue to provide service at the level that the community has basically endorsed,” Rash said.