Levy to help fund Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue added to November ballot
ELLENSBURG, Wash.- Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue protects over 1,200 square miles of Kittitas County and responded to over 4,000 calls in 2017.
But now the department is getting less money to do their job from a levy that was passed more than 10 years ago.
The levy was approved in 2007, but since then costs and the amount of calls have gone up. Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue said they need more money just to keep up and make sure they're ready to respond when you call 911
The department initially got a $1.50 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, but with the growth of lower Kittitas County. That rate dropped down to a $1.40 per thousand.
Ten cents may not seem like much, but it's huge when the area they cover is assessed at $2.8 billion.
“So that ten cents is $280,000. That means we're not replacing a fire engine. That's half of what it would cost to build a volunteer station,” Fire Chief John Sinclair said.
The fire district lost out on a chance to use that $280,000 dollars this year because of the rate change.
To get that money back next year, the board of commissioners added a levy lid lift to move it back to a $1.50 on the November ballot.
“As more people come into the community, as more buildings are built, there's a greater need for fire and emergency medical services. All we're trying to do is keep growth with that same pace of the community,” Sinclair said.
The levy pays for day-to-day operations of the fire department, which includes training, equipment and personnel.
Sinclair said a home assessed at $250,000 would pay two dollars more a month, if the lift is passed.
Twenty-four dollars a year isn't a large amount in the grand scheme of things, but Sinclair said it's critical when protecting Kittitas county.