EDITORIAL: South King Fire levy is worth voting yes
July 25, 2012 · 12:44 PM
In the Aug. 7 election, The Mirror recommends voting yes on South King Fire and Rescue’s proposed levy, which will help protect and stabilize the quality of emergency and fire services.
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.
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 district faces further cuts that could end up hurting taxpayers 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.
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.