[2/23/18] Chelan County Fire & Rescue Commissioners Pass Resolution To Put Levy Lid Lift On Next Ballot At Request Of Union Firefighters

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Chelan Fire & Rescue Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Thursday night to put a levy lid lift proposal before voters in a Special Election this April. And, they warned they’ll be back for more money later.

Registered voters within Chelan County Fire District 7 will be asked to approve a 43% increase in fire district tax collections.

The Commissioner’s decision came at the end of a 90 minute special board meeting orchestrated by Chelan County Fire District Union Firefighters.

International Association of Firefighters Local 4816 requested Thursday night’s meeting with Commissioners, hoping to convince them to approve a $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value levy lid lift. The maximum allowed per state law.

Commissioners, instead, settled on $1.32 for every $1,000 of value. Taxpayers within the district currently pay $.92 per $1,000 assessed value.

Commissioners say the majority of the new tax revenue generated will be used to pay for six union firefighters that are currently supported by federal grant dollars.

If the levy lid lift is approved, commissioners say they will earmark an additional $150 – $200 thousand per year to the Apparatus Replacement Fund. Commissioners say currently that firetruck replacement account is wholly underfunded.

Commissioners said they were anxious to get that levy lid lift proposal on the April ballot because if it were to fail, the six union firefighters currently funded by the federal grant, would be out of a job at the end of the year.

At the current revenue level, Chelan County Fire District 7 cannot afford to pay for those six firefighters.

Commissioners said even if the levy lid lift does pass, they’ll have to go back to voters for additional revenue in the next 2-5 years because the district budget, as it stands, is not sustainable.

District 7 union firefighters, Local 4816 presented a compelling, passionate argument in favor of the levy lid lift at Thursday’s meeting, pledging to take an active role in the campaign in favor of the levy lid lift proposal.

Interestingly, elected Commissioners cannot campaign either for or against a levy lid lift. They can only state the facts.

The fact is, two of three commissioners recently inherited an underfunded, unsustainable Chelan County Fire District 7 budget. They believe they have no choice- they have to ask for a levy lid lift.

Does it need to be a 43% increase in taxes? That will be up to voters to decide in the upcoming April Special Election.