Shoreline Fire levy lid lift approved by voters

  • Brooke Fisher<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:51am

A Shoreline Fire Department levy lid lift proposition was approved by voters on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

As of Wednesday morning, the Enterprise’s deadline, 62.86 percent of voters approved the lift and 37.14 percent rejected the proposition. The proposition needed a simple majority to pass, or 50 percent of votes plus one.

“I never take the citizens for granted and am not surprised at the support,” fire chief Ron Mehlert said. “In a way, I think Initiative 747 makes us go back out and touch bases more often and that is not a bad thing.”

The proposition is a result of Initiative 747, which passed in November 2001 and limits state and local government property tax increases to 1 percent a year, unless voters approve a larger increase.

The funding will be used to maintain current service levels, facilities and provide for apparatus and equipment purchases. As department costs rise about 5 percent per year, the 1 percent increase per year as restricted by I-747 results in a gap.

The property tax rate for collections will be reset at a maximum of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value beginning in 2006. Property owners with assessed property worth $100,000 will pay $150 per year.

Before the levy lid lift passed, Mehlert said that although the fire department currently collects $1.38 per $1,000 for 2005, I-747’s limitations meant that in 2006 the district would collect $1.30 per $1,000 and the department would encounter a negative balance by 2007.

Cost-saving measures have already taken place, Mehlert said, including refinancing building bonds, forming a multiagency training consortium to reduce in-house training costs, and discussions between the fire board and nearby departments regarding a possible merger.

The last fire department levy lid lift was in 2002. Each year after a levy lid lift, the multiplier starts decreasing and to reset the rate, fire officials anticipate going out for a lid lift about every two years.

“We will continue to look at a merger to see if we can further streamline and make the levy last longer,” Mehlert said. “Based on budget projects, we could be back out there within two years.”

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