August has been a busy month for ballot measures, as primary voting across several states provides the opportunity for fire services to appeal to the public via the ballot box. We recently published a look at four ballot measures we’re watching. This piece is continuing our August ballot measure coverage with three more which were all successfully passed!
Enumclaw, King County, Washington
Funding for this county’s Fire & EMS services has been strained as the population has expanded over the last decade. “In 2011, there was a total of 1,877 calls. Total calls have risen to 2,613 in 2011, or about a 39% increase…” according to a report by the Courier Herald. In this same time period, the area’s population had grown by roughly 25%.
Chief Randy Fehr would like to hire three more responders but needed additional funding to do so. However, the fire district has been knee-capped by property tax regulations.
State laws in Washington only allow a 1% increase in property tax collections year over year, so the growth in services has outpaced funding.
The primary reason for this is as the population in the area has expanded, local property tax rates have had to decrease to stay within the state regulations. Local property tax laws allow for up to $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value. In 2022, the levy being collected was $1.35 per $1,000. So, local officials brought a measure to voters in August asking them to lift the lid on what they were currently collecting.
The fire district asked voters to allow the levy being collected to be pushed up to the maximum $1.50, which they said would increase the property tax collected on $500,000 in assessed value up by about $70 per year. This 6-year extension was passed by voters on August 2nd with 63% of the vote.
Green Oaks Charter Township, Livingston County, Michigan
This measure, which was set for August 2nd, sought approval for a public bond which would be used to build a new fire headquarters and a new ladder truck. The proposed headquarters would be over 18,000 square feet with an onsite training room.
We can report that this 20-year, $12.5 million bond was passed by voters on August 2nd with 67% of the vote in favor.
Strongsville, Clark County, Washington
The last time Clark County residents passed a levy to fund EMS services was six years ago. Now, that levy is expiring, and emergency service providers were able to get a new one approved for voters to vote on during August 2nd primary elections.
“The district is asking voters to restore the EMS levy that was overwhelmingly approved by voters nearly six years ago at a rate of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value,” according to a report by The Reflector published before the election.
In an appeal to the public, Clark County fire commissioners released a statement highlighting the climbing call volume over the years since the expiring levy was passed:
“The growth rate for Clark County has increased about 19% since 2010. To provide some perspective of that growth, in 2017 we responded to 7,114 emergency calls, versus 8,353 last year…”Fortunately, voters responded well, passing the levy by 78% on August 2nd.
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