South King Fire & Rescue – encompassing Des Moines, Federal Way and parts of South King County – needs our help. Everyone knows that the economy the last few years has been in the dumps. But not everyone knows that our fire district’s operating funds come solely from property taxes; with property values decreasing 20 percent or more, it’s obvious that the district must tighten its belt.
It has already greatly reduced operating expenses: 23 personnel are gone, including 13 firefighter/EMTs, and a a full-time aid car and a half-time aid car have been eliminated. Unfortunately, the economic picture is not getting better and the capital reserves are depleted.
To maintain the level of safety that we have all come to expect, the district has placed Proposition 1 on the ballot for the April 17 election. This four-year excess levy will allow the district to bridge the gap between current funding and the actual cost of operating. The levy will collect a fixed amount of $3.5 million each year. This is equivalent to an additional 29 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $200,000 home will pay less than $5 per month (about $58 a year) along with the current assessment.
I urge a yes vote for Prop. 1. The department’s tax rate will still remain lower than most neighboring jurisdictions. By voting yes we are voting to maintain fast response times to fire and medical emergencies so vitally important to our community.