MCFD1 Marion County Fire District Clear Lake
The Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD1) board of directors passed a resolution asking voters to renew the local option levy for emergency services during the November 3 general election — the levy accounts for nearly 30 percent of the district’s funding for emergency services.
The levy will be at a rate of $0.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value for a five-year period, which is the same rate as it was from 2016 to 2020.
This decision comes after MCFD1 had asked voters to increase the levy by $0.28 on the May ballot for the primary election for the communities of Four Corners, Middle Grove, Pratum, Macleay, Brooklake, Clearlake, Labish Center and Chemeketa College Station.
However, the ballot measure was not approved, which meant the entire levy failed for the July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021 fiscal year, which was a striking blow for the district.
MCFD1 Fire Chief Kyle McMann believes that the COVID-19 pandemic led to voters not wanting to pass the measure.
“Based on our present data, people had a lot of uncertainty about COVID-19 and they didn’t want to pay anything extra,” McMann said. “It was definitely a big hit for us.”
In order to balance their budget, the district was forced to reduce staffing levels from 14 firefighter/emergency medical teams (EMT) per shift to 10. They also cut hours of service for apparatus and stations that respond to emergencies in Macleay, Labish Center and Clear Lake.
The staffing cuts have often increased response times to five minutes or longer, especially if mutual aid is required from neighboring fire agencies.
McMann also said that MCFD1 employees have agreed to nearly $1 million in reduced wages and benefits in order to, not only balance the budget, but to reduce the amount of layoffs in order to keep as many boots on the ground as possible.
“When things get tough, we just come together. The fire service is a family. We look after each other,” McMann said. “We take care of our co-workers and the citizens we protect.”
McMann believes that the changes will keep the district in stable condition for the next year, but is hopeful that the levy, if passed, will provide much-needed financial assistance next summer.
“We’re very hopeful and optimistic. We’re looking to lock down that levy down for five years to bring some stability to the district,” McMann said. “We feel like people are more comfortable paying the $0.71.”
More information on the local option levy can be found on the Fire District’s website (www.mcfd1.com).