East Pierce Firefighters IAFF 3520 - East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
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East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
Friday, 21 April 2017
The Facts About Upcoming Levy
By Mike Westland, East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
2:13 PM PST, April 21, 2017

At the April 18th Fire Commissioners meeting, the commissioners voted to place a levy lid lift on the August ballot.  Already, two days later, we are hearing and seeing misinformation spread about the levy.  The point of this post is to help get out accurate information and to present a medium where questions can be asked and answered with the correct information.

What is a levy lid lift?  This is a reauthorization of our fire and EMS levies to the levels that have already been established.  Because of the state self-imposed  1% cap, our levies get reduced over time.  This means that instead of collecting $1.50 per thousand on the fire levy, we are currently only allowed to collect $1.38 per thousand.  This is not a new tax, only a reauthorization of an already existing tax.

 A 1% limitation does not allow us to keep up with inflation.  The costs of goods and services have gone up dramatically and continue to do so.  Fuel, tires, the supplies and drugs we use on aid calls, it is all becoming more expensive every day.  Our call volume continues to increase significantly.  In the last 5 years we have seen a 31% increase in EMS call volume, with no addition of personnel or apparatus serving you.  This trend is not sustainable.  It results in longer response times, which can lead to increased fire loss and worse outcome for sick patients. 

 We have heard that some in the community have said that this lid lift will cost the homeowner over $600 a year or $50 a month in 2021.  THIS IS NOT TRUE.  For a $300,000 dollar home, by 2021 (4 years away), this levy would cost an additional $16 a month, or $192 a year. Keep in mind that is after 4 years of the maximum 6% increase allowed in this levy.  If this levy passed, the same home next year would cost $6 a month more.  We do not believe 6 dollars a month is unreasonable to ask to keep our fire department afloat.  Currently, your fire department is dangerously understaffed, overworked, and has stations and apparatus that are at the end of the useful lifespan.  What is it worth to you to have first responders show up when you have an emergency?

 I am sure the rhetoric will ramp up as the election gets closer.  I would ask that if you hear claims that do not seem right, ask.  Ask us, or ask the fire department directly.  We will be happy to give you the actual facts and data so that you are able to make an educated decision on this next levy.

 Thank you,

Mike Westland

President

IAFF Local 3520

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