An emergency-response agency serving a population of 45,000 and serving 122 square miles is turning to voters for help.
Fire District 9 – which serves the Foothills and Northwood areas north of Spokane Valley – is looking to renew an expiring maintenance-and-operations levy on the Aug. 17 primary ballot.
But the main message district officials are looking to get across is that property owners won’t pay a penny more than they are now.
“This is not an additional tax,” said Fire Chief Bob Anderson.
This 2011 and 2012 M&O levy replaces the existing 2009-2010 levy already approved by voters, and it provides about 60 percent of the district revenue. The rest comes from property taxes.
Property owners are expected to pay an estimated $1.60 per $1,000 in assessed valuation (or $320 on a $200,000 home) over the next two years. Anderson said the district’s board of commissioners has taken action to reduce costs by cutting $130,000 from the 2009 budget and using $595,000 in reserve funds.
The levy should supply about $6.3 million next year and $6.7 million in 2010.
“Fire District 9 appreciates the support of its citizens for its M&O levies over the last 20-plus years, and it doesn’t take that support for granted,” Anderson said, “especially in these tough economic times.”
The levy must pass with a 60-percent supermajority, and turnout is also important – to validate the election, 40 percent of those who voted in last November’s general election must send in ballots.
If the levy doesn’t pass, district officials would have to deal with a 60-percent loss in revenue by reducing staff, which would also reduce the number of 24-hour manned stations by half. Response times would also be reduced.
Work was completed on Station 99 – the ninth station in the district – last year at 9105 N. Whitehouse St., which serves the north Spokane Linwood neighborhood.