News

Lower fire levy proposal expected

Decision required by August

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue district commissioners continue to contemplate putting a levy lid lift request to voters in November but the final decision has not yet been made.

At Tuesday’s district meeting, Fire Chief Marv Koorn said the district is hoping to have a decision by the end of the month whether to proceed with the plan.

“We will have to make a decision on the resolution by Aug. 12 so we would be able to get the proposal on the November ballot,” he said.

The first levy lid proposal last February went down in flames as more than 70 percent of the district’s voters said no.

Koorn said right now there is a committee working on the new proposal that will likely be less than the original levy lid lift request.

Originally, the district asked voters to increase the levy to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value, but that amount has been scaled back to 92 cents.

“That amount would be approximately a 32-cent increase,” Koorn said.

If approved, the increased funding would be used to rebuild the Heller Road fire station, make improvements to other fire station buildings within the district and purchase new firefighting equipment.

An immediate purchase would be replacing the old SCBA breathing equipment, required for firefighters when they enter burning buildings to put out blazes.

The equipment the district has will need to be replaced within the next four years and there is no way that it can be repaired or upgraded. New equipment is needed.

Even now, the district is experiencing problems finding replacement parts because of the equipment’s age.

“It’s become a difficult situation. There isn’t a lot of equipment out there,” said district secretary Nancy Theune.

“What we end up doing is replacing broken parts with used stuff,” Koorn added.

The district is working on obtaining a grant to replace the breathing equipment should the levy lid lift proposal be turned down as it was in February or not even appear on this year’s ballot.

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