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Levy: Small price for safety
As a resident and taxpayer in Central Whidbey, and a member of Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue, I would like to encourage Central Whidbey residents to support the fire levy increase on the Sept. 14 ballot.
For the first time in 12 years the residents of Central Whidbey are being asked to increase the fire levy from the current rate of $1.19 to $1.29 per thousand of assessed value, an increase of about $ 20 per year on a home assessed at $ 200,000. So, what does that $ 20 per year buy you? Peace of mind.
Living here, I know that when my family has to call 911 for fire or medical assistance, I will get trained and experienced people on my doorstep within minutes. The fire department has continued to add full-time firefighter / EMTs to continue the quality of service that we citizens have grown to expect.This in part is due to the number of volunteer members which has been at a gradual decline over the past 10 to 15 years. The fire district has had a long range plan for the past 15 years to purchase needed vehicles as the old ones wear out, and they have done all this without going back to the voters to increase the levy rate.
The levy rate will increase funds to help defray the rising cost of such expenses as fuel, medical insurances and personnel cost which have increased an average of 3.5 to 4 percent per year since 2001. Initiative 747 (I-747) passed by the voters in 2001, limits the increase of property taxes for Fire Departments to 1 percent. Income is not keeping up with the rising cost.
Vote as if your life depended on it, someday it may. Vote Yes on Sept. 14 for the fire levy.