From 2011 to 2013 S.E. Thurston Fire Authority experienced an unprecedented loss in revenue exceeding $700,000. In response the Fire Authority eliminated five positions, froze all base wage and cost of living increases, successfully applied for, and received, 1.2 million in federal grants, as well as established partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions to share cost. The prior levy lid lift, which was approved by the voters, expired in 2013. Your board of commissioners made a conscious decision to wait three years before re-running the proposition. It was our intention to help citizens recover from the downturn in the economy. The fire commissioners and Chief King’s decision to ask the community to restore our prior funding levels is not a decision that your department leadership takes lightly.
Although S.E. Thurston Fire Authority has been able to maintain service levels, call volume has increased 17%, over the past 5 years, we have exhausted all cost cutting and revenue generating measures, and in addition our federal grant for staffing is set to expire in 2017. Consequently S.E. Thurston Fire Commissioners are placing a multi-year lid lift proposition before the voters on August 2, 2016. This levy, if passed, will restore the 2007 regular property tax levy which expired in 2013 to the maximum statutory rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. If passed, this levy will allow the authority to maintain our current levels of service.