A bonding experience

Ballot issues range from a rotting fire hall to an incontinent reservoir

By BRIAN KELLY

Herald Writer

Fire departments in Stanwood, Getchell and Bryant are going to voters with helmet in hands Nov. 7 for levies and bond measures to pay for basic services and capital improvements.

In the Monroe School District area, voters will also be asked a second time to pass a maintenance-and-operation levy to pay for park programs and the upkeep of Maltby Community Park.

Voters in five areas of Snohomish and Island counties will decide local issues in the general election:

In Monroe, voters in the East County Parks and Recreation District will again be voting on a maintenance and operation levy to support the district’s park and operations.

The levy was on the September ballot, but failed to get the number of "yes" votes needed to pass. The measure failed, earning a 54 percent approval rather than the 60 percent needed.

Residents are being asked to approve an increase from 8 cents to 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

A person owning a $200,000 home will pay about $18 a year in taxes to the district.

The district, which owns and operates Maltby Park, has the same boundaries as the Monroe School District and provides recreational activities to that area in conjunction with the city park department.

The current maintenance and operations levy expires this year. If the measure does not pass in this election, it cannot be run for another year.

If the measure fails, district administrator Susan Clayton said Maltby Park may have to be closed. It is used for a number of soccer leagues and other sports events, as well as for community events.

The district employs two full-time people and four to six seasonal employees. It is known for its summer programs for youth in grades kindergarten to eight. It also sponsors a movie day for seniors, summer concerts and the annual Maltby Mania celebration.

In Stanwood, firefighters are hoping to gain approval for a $2.5 million bond measure so a new fire station can be built next to the current one. The present fire hall, built in 1960 with donated labor and materials, has a terminal case of termites and dry rot.

"The back wall is almost entirely dry rot," said Tom Webb, president of the Association of Stanwood Volunteer Firefighters. The roof isn’t much better.

"We have a back storeroom we have to keep 5-gallon buckets in to catch the water when it rains," Webb said.

The building is cramped, too.

"We had to cut an opening in one of the front doors to make the door taller so we could get our ladder truck in," he said.

Firefighters have been talking about a new fire hall for several years, and the current proposal was pared back from a facility that would have cost $3.5 million.

The measure will cost about 81 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $150,000 home would pay $121.50 a year if the 20-year bond measure is approved.

"This was the lowest one we could come up with that still met the needs for now and the future," Webb said. "I know it sounds like a lot of money, but a lot of that money is going to be to fix the street out front."

Revenues will be used to repair roughly 200 yards of 270th Street NW, from 88th Avenue NW to Florence Drive. New sidewalks, water lines and other improvements are planned.

It’s the first time the proposal has been on the ballot, and there is no organized opposition.

In Fire District 18, the Bryant area north of Arlington, voters will be asked to approve a levy for fire and emergency services.

The levy of $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed valuation will cost the owner of a $150,000 home $217.50 a year.

District taxpayers already pay $1.49 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for a capital improvement bond measure and a levy that expires this year. The new levy would become permanent if approved.

"We’re hoping to improve the staffing during the daytime," said Dale Fulfs, chief of the all-volunteer department.

Firefighters in Fire District 22, the Getchell area, are asking voters to make permanent a six-year levy that expires this year. The measure will fund EMS operations.

The levy is 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $75 a year for the owner of a $150,000 home.

Voters who live in the Clinton Water District on Whidbey Island will have a chance to plug a few holes in their water system.

District officials are asking residents to approve a 10-year bond measure to raise $275,000 to replace a 31-year-old wood water reservoir that’s leaking 9,000 gallons a day. The district had planned to replace the tank next year, but they are worried the reservoir won’t last that long.

"There’s a creek running away from it," said Mike Helland, district manager.

The reservoir is the key component to the Clinton water system, which serves 690 customers. Although the tank holds 106,000 gallons, district officials don’t think the reservoir is still strong enough to hold more than 86,000 gallons.

"It’s not a good situation. We’re looking at a catastrophic failure," he said.

The measure would cost 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $42 per year for the owner of a $150,000 home.

The Herald/JUSTIN BEST

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