This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
Orting-area voters have what should be a no-brainer on their April 27 ballot.
They’ll be deciding whether City of Orting residents who are already being well-served by contracting with Orting Valley Fire and Rescue should go ahead and annex already to the fire district. They should.
Annexation wouldn’t cost current fire district residents anything. Their tax rate for fire and emergency medical services is $2 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, and that won’t change. City of Orting residents would see a slight increase in their existing tax rate – 28 cents more per $1,000, or $56 more annually than they’re paying now on a $200,000 home.
If the annexation isn’t approved, costs for service to city residents after 2011 could increase more than the 28 cents per $1,000 – especially if the city were to begin providing its own fire and emergency medical service.
Residents of the city and voters who already live in the fire district have to separately approve the annexation, and there are advantages for both populations.
Orting residents would be getting stability and consistency in their fire and emergency medical service. And they would have input into that service that they don’t have today. The district’s fire board will increase from three to five members; the two new members, who will initially be appointed, will be city residents.
For residents already in the fire district, annexation means the level of service they now enjoy will be maintained. If the district were to lose the revenue it’s now getting from Orting residents, that would have a serious impact on the fire district’s service levels.
This kind of annexation is becoming more common as communities look for ways to provide better service at the most efficient cost. In fact, even if this annexation is approved, it’s very possible that the Orting fire district could eventually merge with another local district for even greater economy of scale.
But that’s an issue for a future election. The first step is for Orting to annex into the Orting Valley Fire and Rescue district. Voters would be wise to take that step April 27.