South Whidbey fire district seeks levy increase

FREELAND — South Whidbey Fire and EMS plans a community meeting on Thursday to discuss a possible levy lid increase.

The fire district now draws 61 cents per $1,000 of property value, Fire Chief Rusty Palmer said.

District officials may ask voters in November to approve a new levy of up to 76 cents per $1,000.

The owner of a $300,000 house in the district now pays about $183 a year. If the increase of the levy lid passed, the same owner would pay up to $228.

Voters haven’t approved a levy increase in south Whidbey since the late 1980s, Palmer said. The district’s 2012 operational budget is about $2.2 million, though they also rely on grants.

The additional money would be used to provide fire protection and emergency medical services, including training for volunteer crews, Palmer said

Crews responded to 1,900 emergency calls in the district in 2011.

The money also would help buy safety equipment and fuel for the fire vehicles, Palmer said. The district can’t afford to buy new vehicles, so its maintenance costs for the older rigs also have risen.

The meeting is planned for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the fire station at 5535 Cameron Road, Freeland.

The public is encouraged to comment, Palmer said.

“It’s an opportunity for them to gather facts from the department about who we are and what we do, our budget, our equipment, that kind of thing,” he said.

People also can mail comments to the fire station or email chief@icfd3.org.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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