MCFD1 will seek levy increase

The Board of Directors for Marion County Fire District #1 unanimously approved a resolution asking voters to consider additional funding for emergency personnel, apparatus and equipment. 

The proposal will be on the May 19 primary election ballot for the communities of Four Corners, Middle Grove, Pratum, Macleay, Brooklake, Clearlake, Labish Center, and Chemeketa College Station.

Call volumes have increased an average of 5.2 percent per year for the district and overlapping calls account for 55 percent of all calls.

In many cases, the district must rely on mutual aid from neighboring agencies, which takes longer to reach people in an emergency.

“The fact is that we need more firefighters to respond to calls,” said Fire Chief Kyle McMann. “More calls also mean added costs for apparatus and equipment. Fortunately, we’re ahead of these issues before they become a real problem.”

The district developed a strategic plan last year to respond to increasing emergency response times. The plan identified how the fire district would address challenges to service while reducing impacts to taxpayers. Short-term, the fire district would hire two firefighter/paramedics to improve staffing, which would expand hours of service for a unit in service to the public.

A portion of the levy funds also would be set aside to pay cash for replacement apparatus and equipment. Paying upfront for the capital items saves taxpayers money compared to financing them and paying interest. 

Chief McMann says that the district will require additional personnel in the long-term. The board of directors wants to pay off a bond before asking taxpayers to consider another levy.

“We’re being very strategic in how we do this to minimize any tax increase for property owners,” said Chief McMann. 

The resolution asks voters to consider increasing the district’s operating levy from 71 to 99 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The 28-cent increase equates to $4.67 per month ($56 per year) for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000.