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Central Whidbey Fire airs levy lid increase
Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue invites the public to talk taxes at the meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 5 p.m. at 1164 Race Road south of Coupeville.
The board is seeking public input about a possible levy lid lift for 2012, and will vote that evening on whether to place it on the ballot.
“Community participation is important to this process and actively encouraged,” said Fire Chief Ed Hartin in a news release.
The chief said two primary issues are behind the request for the levy lid lift: A shortage of volunteer firefighters, and equipment maintenance and replacement.
“Both issues are impacting the fire district’s ability to respond to emergency calls with enough personnel and the right equipment,” Hartin said.
The board is planning to ask the community for a levy lid lift of 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which equates to approximately $8.50 per month or $102 annually for the owner of a $300,000 home. Levy funds will pay for a training captain to focus on volunteer recruitment and retention, a firefighter/mechanic to maintain emergency vehicles in-house, and equipment repair and replacement.
Short term, the board anticipates this will improve CWIFR’s ability to respond to daytime and multiple emergencies with two additional personnel and well-maintained equipment. Long term, it will save CWIFR money on personnel costs through the use of volunteers, repairing equipment in house, and paying cash for equipment replacement when needed.
Community members are encouraged to attend and speak at the public meeting. Those unable to attend the meeting but interested in submitting comments may email them to Chief Hartin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail letters to CWIFR, 1164 Race Road, Coupeville, WA 98239.
Since 1928 residents of Central Whidbey Island have volunteered their time and money to provide emergency services for the community. Today Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue remains a largely volunteer fire department providing a 24-hour response to 10,000 people in Coupeville, Greenbank and unincorporated areas of Central Whidbey Island.
“CWIFR believes in paying for expenses as they occur, as opposed to borrowing money and paying interest,” Hartin said. “It is debt-free, operates under a balanced budget, and has passed all independent financial audits.”