While we all need fire protection and emergency services support, the current levy requests seems unjustified, with an absence of supporting financial information on the district’s operations and expenses.
Ten percent of Pierce County taxpayers are out of work. University Place taxpayers already have the highest tax rate in Pierce County. The Consumer Price Index has been flat or negative for the last three years, and the average home has lost more than 12.5 percent in value.
Arguing that district revenues are falling with declining home values and therefore homeowners need to approve another excess levy for full district funding suggests the fire district isn’t doing its fair share to reduce expenses during our current recession. Has the district cut its expenses commensurate with the economic conditions facing its supported population?
Not filling and eliminating duplicate positions for $900,000 in through district consolidation is a good start. Employee salary concessions ($600,000) need to be viewed in the context of past salary and benefits growth trends and planned escalation. Budget escalation was 14 percent per year between 2004 and 2009. Why are two stations needed within a mile of UP’s Town Center? Let’s not approve another excess levy without the facts.