Levy would restore fire district services

LAKE STEVENS – Voters in Snohomish County Fire District 8 will decide whether to approve a levy that would pump money back into the district’s stations.

The levy would generate an anticipated $6 million in revenue over five years. If the levy is approved, property owners in the district would pay $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of 55 cents per $1,000.

The money will be needed to maintain the district’s services and response times as more people move to the area and the costs of salaries and utilities rise, Fire Chief Gary Faucett said.

Fire officials crafted the five-year levy after surveying district residents and speaking with community leaders.

“We looked at the next five years and said, ‘This is what it will cost us to take care of those issues in this community,’” Faucett said.

Ballots will be mailed to voters Thursday. The ballots are due back to the Snohomish County Elections Office by 8 p.m. May 16.

If voters approve the levy, the district would hire a fire marshal and a training officer, positions that have been left unfilled because of budget restrictions, Faucett said.

The district also would hire 12 firefighters over the next five years, as well as restore more than 22,000 firefighting service hours to the district’s budget, Faucett said.

“We’re not only trying to replace what we lost, but we’re also trying to maintain what we have,” he said.

The levy would provide money to renovate and add more living space at both of the district’s stations. Decontamination stations for firefighters who are exposed to hazardous materials also would be added.

Firefighters sometimes have to sleep in their stations’ training rooms because there’s not enough room for beds, Faucett said.

A portion of the money from the levy would be dedicated to a proposed multi-use emergency operations center. The center, which is in the early planning stages, would hold up to 100 people during large-scale emergencies and give emergency workers a hub to work from.

“We’ve had an increase of disasters in America, and our community is concerned about that,” Faucett said.

District residents wouldn’t be asked to approve another levy until after this one expired, if at all, Faucett said.

“When they get their ballot, they will be voting for their fire service for the next five years,” he said.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or spesznecker@heraldnet.com.

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