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January 19, 1998

Opinion

Clarification of fire district taxing laws

  I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of Maxine Keesling's questions in her letter printed in the Jan. 12, 1998 edition of your paper. First of all I would like to summarize the laws that govern taxing by junior districts such as fire districts. Increased assessed values have not resulted in increased revenues for the fire districts. Even if the assessed value in a taxing district were to double, the amount of tax levied can only increase by the rate of inflation or by six percent (6%) if approved by the elected board of officials. So the assessed value may increase by 100%, but the revenue can only increase by 6%.
  
   Why is the levy changing from .25 per thousand to .29 per thousand? Inflation, new regulatory standards, and the need for new equipment are just some of the reasons that are driving the cost of doing business up. This change reflects an additional four ($4) per $100,000 in assessed value.
  
   Why a three year levy? This will give the county time to find another funding source for this life saving service. No one is planning another levy after this one. Three years is a fair length of time to study and find that other funding source.
  
   County officials only blame themselves for the result of the last election. A poor effort was made at letting people know what the levy was for. And that for the most part it was a continuation, not a new tax. You were paying 25 cents per thousand, that levy expired at the end of 1997. Also, each fire department in the county receives funds from this levy. Fire District 45 in Duvall was supposed to receive just over $110,000 from the levy for 1998 operations. With the failure of the levy we lost that funding and have suffered a 13% reduction in our budget. Staffing has been reduced and equipment funding cut due to this impact.
  
   I encourage everyone to learn as much as you can about the Medic One levy that provides for Emergency Medical Services at all levels throughout the county. If you have any questions, call your local fire department and ask the people who will be the ones taking care of you.
   Bud Backer, Acting Fire Chief,
   Duvall-King Co. Fire District 45