In a recent commentary, fire levy opponents grossly exaggerated the cost of the levy by projecting tax increases that likely would exceed state legal limits (“Why you should vote against the VIFR levy,” Oct. 18). And then falsely claimed there’s no plan for using the money.
The opposition’s projections for tax revenue assume the fire commission will vote to raise tax revenue by 6 percent every year. But the commission could also vote against raising revenue and the increases may not even be permitted because state law and the ballot language caps the tax rate at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Furthermore, opposition calculations assume an inflated house value of $580,000 in 2018. But that’s $128,000 (28 percent) higher than the average assessed value of a Vashon house in 2018 — $452,000 according to the county assessor. At the max $1.50 tax rate, the cost to an average household will increase by $25 per month in the levy’s first year.
Chief Krimmert’s plan for the levy funds sets three clear priorities:
1. Cover the $1.2 million operational shortfall next year. The fire district can’t be sustained on a rate that hasn’t been raised in 27 years and is the lowest of all 24 fire districts in King County.
2. Fund additional firefighters and emergency medical technicians to make up for the loss of paramedics and provide enough responders for a house fire or simultaneous aid calls. Help from adjacent fire agencies takes an hour or more to get here by ferry. We’re on our own here.
3. Build a bank to fund replacement of everything from fire hoses to firefighter protective clothing — and to replace fire engines and aid cars that are past the age standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.
— Rick Wallace