The fire district serving Lacey and outlying areas needs voter support on Nov. 7 to pass a tax increase. The funds would pay for nearly $20 million of equipment and building upgrades over several years.
Proposition 1 is a modest request. Voters should approve it.
No one stepped forward to write a statement against the measure in the county voter pamphlet. But the measure needs 60 percent approval by voters living in Thurston County Fire District 3 and 17,087 ballots returned to validate it.
Judy Wilson, a commissioner for Fire District 3, said a bond approved by voters in 2000 paid for a few new stations, including the main one at Franz Street and Pacific Avenue. Those stations are in good locations, but extra space is needed as the district responds to rising call volumes and accommodates both men and women in dorms, she said.
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The new funds would pay to replace Station 34, located along Steilacoom Road near the mushroom farm, and convert the existing station into a training center. It also would pay to renovate Station 35 on Willamette Drive on the northeast side of the city. And it would finance an expansion of both Station 33 and a vehicle repair facility along Mullen Road. The Station 33 project includes new dorms.
Chief Steve Brooks said the district plans to buy three new fire engines over several years, using two to phase out older trucks. The new tax would take effect next year, but Brooks said half of the bonds would not be issued until the current bonds are paid off in late 2020.
If approved, property taxes would rise by a net 4 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. That is $10.40 per year on a $260,000 home and lot, according to district lawyer Jim McNeil. He wrote in the voter pamphlet that this would raise the total bond-related tax to $3.25 per month on a $260,000 home through 2020.
After 2020 the cost of the bond-related levy would drop to $2.84 per month on a $260,000 property.
These are small costs to provide equipment and stations for the district’s 95 paid firefighters and emergency medical technicians as well as additional administrative staff and volunteers.
Lacey does not operate its own fire department but contracts with FD 3 for fire and EMT coverage inside city limits. Separate tax support district operations.
Voters inside and outside the city should give Prop. 1 a resounding yes vote.