For Marion County Fire District #1 Chief Kyle McMann, the operating levy on next week's ballot is nothing less than a fight for the life of the district itself.
“We’re responding to 50 percent more calls than seven years ago with 12 fewer firefighters – actually, 22 if you include the volunteers who have left due to burn out,” said McMann. “We can’t keep going like this. We are responding to well over 8,000 calls a year, and must have more personnel to provide an adequate response. The current situation is unsafe.”
MCFD#1 is asking the community to approve Measure #24-455, a local option levy of $0.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value during the May 18, 2021 Special District election. That’s approximately $59 (or $4.92 per month) per $100,000 of assessed property value.
The Fire District had a local option levy of $0.71 per $1,000 until last year. It had asked voters to renew it, but that request was turned down. Loss of revenue necessitated significant cuts to service, and the community has seen response times increase by more than a minute.
Measure #24-455 would rehire nine full-time firefighter/paramedics to increase the number of emergency units able to respond to 911 calls to four. The Fire District currently has three units responding down from 5.5 a year ago.
The Fire District serves 55,000 people over 80 square miles and about 1,000 Keizer homes. It is an independent taxing district and receives no revenue from Marion County, the state or federal government. Last year, it lost 30 percent of its revenue for emergency services when its local option levy was not renewed. Since that time, firefighter layoffs have resulted in longer response times, closing stations and taking apparatus out of service.
Ballots are due to Marion County Elections or in an official drop site location by 8 p.m. on May 18. There is a drop box located in the parking lot of the Keizer Civic Center.
More information about the local option levy can be found at www.mcfd1.com. Fire Chief Kyle McMann also welcomes questions at 503-588-6535 or [email protected]