Letters to the Editor

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UPLACE: Justify fire district levy request

Letter by James W. Clark, University Place on Aug. 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm with 11 Comments »
August 1, 2011 1:58 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Look for the fire departments to haul around the twin towers steel beam to garner yes votes by making you feel quilty. Don’t buy it.

    Here is an idea. Let the firemen opt out of the forced union dues they have to pay with your tax dollars. This increase would be a pay raise to the men and wonem that do the work not the unions that pass on the dues $$$$ to democrats. I was told this is over $200 a month for just their union dues. What a bunch of crap to force our firremen to take your tax dollars and pass on to democrats. NO MORE….

    Count he in as a resounding NO vote.

    The days of “it’s for the kids”,” the cops need new radios” and the “firemen need this” are OVER!!!! The won’t be fooled again and the sky will not fall. If all else fails privatize the fire dept and get better service for less money.

    Until we can fund a COLA for seniors they must not be ANY tax increases. period………

  2. alindasue says:

    Mr. Clark and taxedenoughintacoma,

    You want the University Place fire department to save money?

    Well, up until a couple decades ago, University Place had a volunteer fire department. My grandfather served on it for decades (well into his 60s). I can still remember being waken at all hours of the night or having gatherings interrupted on holidays by the “squawk box” going off announcing an emergency call he had to go to. I suppose they could save money by again going back to the volunteer fire department.

    If they did, I’m sure both you gentlemen would be among the first to volunteer for duty, right? Of course, you would.

  3. Curmudgeon48 says:

    Let’s see the budgets and expenditures. It is after all a public agency. Why aren’t the budgets posted online? Why can’t the fire department use a portion of municipal budget funds, instead of the Council spending it on a $50 million hole in the ground?

    The facts should speak for themselves. The district appears to be withholding its budgetary information from the public.

  4. taxedenoughintacoma says:


    I was a fireman for 15 years. When told I had to join the union and pay dues I left. Became a stock broker and found a richer way to earn the American dream.

    The sooner we stave local government to sooner we will privatize the fire dept.

  5. harleyrider1 says:

    Glad someone else wondered why the “old” headquarters wasn’t good enough and why we have major fire equipment in tow locations within a mile of each other.

    You wanted a City. Now you have a $45 million dollar loan gathering interest every day for an “exclusive” condo/upper crest store towne center.

    You lost a relatively cheap LOCAL fire department to a conglomoration of high paid ego salaries at the top, all of whom have take home cars. Do fire guys really need take home cars?

    Until resident voters get serious about taking control of this city, we are going to be sattled with greater debt, larger than needed government, and why?

  6. lawrencejprice says:

    What’s the point in privatizing the fire, aide or police departments? Homes have a water supply, put out your own fires. Afraid something will happen while your not home, put in a sprinkler system. Need protection, buy guns and an alarm system. Get hurt, drive yourself to the ER…. problem solved. public schools, who needs them? Home schooling is good enough.

  7. itwasntmethistime says:

    Why would we want to privatize the police and fire departments?

  8. In Arizona the Couny of Yuma has a private Fire and Rescue Unit named Rural Metro and that seems to be working out just fine for those folks.The City Of Yuma has their own Fire Department and the both will assist each other if their help is needed.

  9. alindasue says:

    Chicago has “privatized police”. It’s called the mafia…

    Make sure you pay your protection money.

  10. itwasntmethistime says:

    A friend of mine has a home in Yuma County, AZ. The first time she got her annual bill for $400 for fire service she was quite surprised. It seemed quite high to her until I showed her how to break out what Lakewood fire service costs per year. If the bill came separately here instead of embedded in property taxes I think people would be shocked at what it costs to have fire engines standing ready.

  11. If you actually work the numbers they say- it makes no sense.
    Under this , the revenue to be raised in 2013 increases more than $538,000 over what they want to collect in 2012. How is that a ‘renewal’ ??
    They state that this levy funds over 25% of the entire Fire District budget. Do the math – At the proposed $1.08 per thousand, it means the entire budget would be based on $4.32 per $1,000. The entire current rate in U.P. is $2.87 per $1,000 .
    How does that work.
    This is not full disclosure of information, but IS a tax increase.
    And, after U.P. homeowners just took an 18% increase in our overall general levy rate. this will increase that number yet again.
    When does it end with increases ?

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