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
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
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.
IAFF Local 3520
directly to this article.