Keizer voters who live within Marion County Fire District #1 (Clear Lake neighborhood) have a decision to make on Measure 24-452 on the general election ballot. The measure is a renewal of the local option levy to fund fire and emergency medical service in the district, which stretches from north Keizer to Brooks and into rural Marion County east and south of Salem. Marion County Fire District #1 residents need to vote yes on the measure.

District voters failed to approve a levy increase in May, which also took away the original option levy. That swept away 30% of the fire district’s operating revenue. Measure 24-452 would restore the original levy of 71 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Since the levy defeat last spring, MCFD1 has reduced staffing levels, cut station hours and taken equipment out of service to balance its budget. District personnel accepted wage cuts, cuts to health care benefits and furlough days. 

The coronavirus is still active and new cases of COVID-19 are being diagnosed every day. The wildfires in Santiam Canyon along with higher call volumes are straining the district’s resources. It is not a good scenario for a fire and medical services district to face. 

The primary role the public wants government to play is to keep people safe. MCFD1 is supported by tax dollars from those who live within its boundaries. When medical emergency or fire calls come in, the district responds as quickly as possible. If Measure 24-452 does not pass, residents will see more drastic cuts to service in January 2021.

COVID-19 and wildfires have demonstrated how fast life can change. Minutes count when a house is on fire and someone is suffering a personal emergency such as a heart attack. 

The citizens of Marion County Fire District #1 should not put themselves and neighbors at risk. Passing this measure will stop more service cuts. We support the passage of Measure 24-452.        —LAZ