Levy bid up in smoke

Voters were rejecting the Black Lake Fire Department's request for additional tax dollars to pay for the manpower and equipment its official say is needed to keep up with growth in the area.

Voters were rejecting the "levy lid lift" with 53 percent of the vote. The levy needs a simple majority to pass.

Thurston County Fire District Protection District No. 5 planned to use the estimated $200,000 a year the "levy lid lift" will generate to hire career firefighters and pay for new equipment, including new vehicle and mobile radios.

Fire districts can levy a property tax up to a maximum rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value to pay operating costs. They can only increase the revenue generated by the property tax levy 1 percent each year under a voter-approved initiative. As a result, the levy rate gradually shrinks as the assessed value in the district grows at a faster rate.

The district's levy rate has fallen to $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value. The measure to restore the $1.50 levy rate would cost the owner of a $250,000 home $37.50 more in property taxes each year.