Opinion

Vote yes for South King Fire levy | Editorial

In the April 17 special election, The Mirror recommends voting yes on South King Fire and Rescue’s proposed excess levy.

The fire district’s primary job is medical response. The majority of calls — more than 14,000 a year — are for emergency medical services (EMS). The excess levy will help stabilize response times, in which a one-minute delay can mean the difference between life and death.

South King Fire and Rescue is in the business of protecting and saving lives. In turn, the public benefits when protecting this critical service.

If approved, the levy will generate $3.5 million per year for four years. About $1 million will restore one emergency aid car to the fire district’s fleet. The rest will help cover the district’s budget gap and state-mandated cash reserves.

The levy is expected to cost taxpayers 29 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, or about $5 a month for the average homeowner.

Even in a belt-tightening economy, this investment is worth it. Any added expense, even a few dollars a month, is tough for some households. However, the prospect of a deteriorating first-class fire district is a serious quality of life issue for Federal Way taxpayers.

The stabilization of emergency services is at stake. The fire district relies almost solely on property taxes for funding. Property values continue to plummet, leading to several reductions in fire personnel and equipment.

The fire district faces further cuts that could end up hurting taxpayers more in the long run, should this levy fail. In addition to laying off up to 25 firefighters, these cuts could result in a downgrade of the fire district’s “Class 2” rating, leading to higher insurance premiums for this taxpayer-funded entity.

Your vote matters. To pass, the levy requires a 60 percent supermajority and a minimum voter turnout. Not voting in the April 17 special election is equivalent to voting no.

The Mirror recommends voting yes on the levy to protect and stabilize the quality of emergency and fire services.

Special election information

Ballots for the April 17 special election will be mailed to voters on March 28. Voting is done by mail. A curbside ballot drop-off box is available on 8th Avenue South (in front of City Hall). To learn more about the special election, visit www.kingcounty.gov/elections.

Click here to read a report on the proposed SKFR excess levy.

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Contact the Federal Way Mirror’s editorial board: editorialboard@federalwaymirror.com

 

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