MCFD1 eyes new levy

Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD#1) wants to hire two firefighter/paramedics to respond to increasing call volumes. 

Doing so would require an operating levy increase from taxpayers, and the district is holding two meetings to take public input on the issue.

The meetings will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. at the MCFD Four Corners location (300 Cordon Road N.E. in Salem), and Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. at the Brooks Training Center (4910 Brooklake Road N.E. in Salem). 

The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Those who would like to provide input but are unable to attend are encouraged to contact Fire Chief Kyle McMann at (503) 588-6535 or [email protected]. All comments are appreciated and become part of the public record.

The operating levy increase is proposed at 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value or $4.67 per month ($56 per year) for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000. If approved by the board of directors, the measure would be included on the ballot for the May 2020 primary election.

McMann said that the district started to see response times increase and developed a strategic plan to address that concern. The strategic plan is available on the website at www.mcfd1.com.

“The fact is that we have an aging population requiring more emergency services, and we don’t have enough personnel to respond,” said Chief McMann. “An incremental increase to our operating levy will help us meet this demand.”

The district also is contending with an increase in emergency calls that happen back-to-back, and a sharp decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters serving the area. Volunteer participation has declined 52.4 percent, from 84 response volunteers to 40 since 2013. These issues impact the district’s ability to get an effective response force on scene.

“Two more full-time firefighters in the immediate future will help,” said McMann. “We will need additional personnel, but want to increase staffing gradually to minimize the impact to our taxpayers. This is the right way forward.”

A portion of the operating levy increase also would be used to replace aging apparatus and equipment. Reliable apparatus is necessary to respond to calls, and also to maintain the Fire District’s insurance rating which is linked to what home and business owners pay in premiums.