Our team of emergency responders are committed to providing prompt and effective service throughout the District. Our Board of Fire Commissioners and staff have worked hard over the past year developing plans to better meet our service mission and goals. The proposed levy restoration ballot measure will provide additional funding to help us maintain our current capabilities and improve service in the coming years.
Our greatest (55%) cost is for response staffing including 70 volunteer and 9 career responders. The primary goal is to provide round-the-clock staffing at the South Bay and North Olympia firestations and responding to over 1,000 calls per year.
The District’s second largest cost (27%) is its facilities, apparatus and equipment. This cost also includes set-aside funding to periodically replace apparatus and equipment without asking voters for additional tax dollars. For example, in 2015, the District replaced an old pumper costing over $450,000 using these funds.
The District is also working to reduce its administrative costs, including Board, payroll, accounting and human resources. At about 9% now, this is less than an average of 12% of the pre-merger (2014) fire districts 7 and 8.
Why a Levy Restoration Now?
South Bay Fire District 8 is restricted to a 1% increase in its property tax levy each year (adjusted with annual new construction values).
On average, costs for have been increasing over 5% every year. Dollars from a restored levy are needed to help maintain current services, as well as improve them, so we can provide more consistent, round-the-clock coverage:
- Adding career and volunteer staffing at the North Olympia firestation;
- Supporting competitive compensation for our current career and volunteer responders;
- Funding for replacement of old apparatus, like the three 20+ year old pumpers that will need to be replaced soon;
- Increased investment in training and leadership development to help us attract and retain high quality responders
How Many Call Do We Respond To?
For the past ten years, FD8 (plus FD7 prior to 2014) responded to an average of 956 calls per year. On average, 77% of these calls are for emergency medical services. This represents an average of 735 calls per year, increasing at an annual rate of 4% per year. “Other” types of calls are service calls (e.g. wires down, burn complaints, false alarms, etc.).
How the Levy Restoration Works
Without the levy restoration, tax revenue growth is capped at 1%. Since being set at $1.50 per thousand of assessed value in 2015, our tax rate has been reduced to $1.34 as property values have increased. The proposal lifts the levy back to $1.50 and authorizes up to a 6% increase for each of the next 5 years, but never more than $1.50.
Fire District 8 taxes have not increased as fast as other comparable fire agencies. The average tax rate of our four most comparable fire departments in Thurston County in 2018 is $1.66.
Learn More at Our OPEN HOUSE!
Join us at our Open house on Sunday, October 21st from 10am – 1pm and learn more about this proposal and have your questions answered.