Thank you to The News Tribune for endorsing Central Pierce Fire & Rescue’s Aug. 16 ballot measures (editorial, 8-3). The emergency medical services levy and the fire benefit charge make up nearly half the fire district’s revenue and must be renewed by voters every six years. These are not new taxes or a tax increase.
Basic fire district funding was established back in the 1930s for rural volunteer departments. Many fire districts now serve more densely populated communities and have taken on more responsibilities such as emergency medical services, hazardous materials and technical rescue. Consequently, the Legislature has responded by providing temporary funding sources like the EMS levy and the fire benefit charge.
Regardless of these funding issues, declining property values continue to produce less revenue. The department and employees have already responded by freezing wages, reducing benefits and not filling open positions.
The men and women of Central Pierce Fire & Rescue are dedicated public servants and hope our citizens find value in the services we provide.
(Willis is the Central Pierce Fire & Rescue fire chief)