2019 Request For Levy Lid Increase
On July 11, 2019 the STFE Board of Fire Commissioners voted to seek voter approval for a Levy Lid Increase on the November Ballot. The proposed levy would be a multi-year levy starting in 2020 with annual increases of up to 6% in each of the 5 subsequent years - NOT to exceed the $1.50/$1,000AV limit.
In 2017 Thurston County Fire Districts 12 & 16 merged forming South Thurston Fire & EMS. In 2018 the City of Tenino was annexed into the fire district by voter approval. Fire District 16 had never asked for a levy increase and voters approved Fire District 12 for a levy increase to $1.50 in 2009.
Between 2017 and 2019 the district's levy went from $1.45 to $1.25, down to the current $1.19 due to the merger and annexation.
Operating costs continue to rise at a rate greater than the maximum 1% increase we are allowed to collect each year without voter approval under initiative 747.
Call volume has increased 25% over the past 4 years. Currently crews are being dispatched to multiple calls 22% of the time.
What will the money be used for?
The extra revenue will be used for various things such as:
Allow us to continue the current volunteer recruitment and retention program, currently funded by a 4 year grant from FEMA.
Allow us to have a full-time chief to run the day-to-day operations. Our current chief is part time.
Set aside funds toward our vehicle replacement program
Purchase personal protective equipment
Increase our ability to provide more outside training to our current and future members.
Ability to hire additional employees - Full-time & Seasonal
How to estimate tax levy amount:
Assessed Property Value (AV) ÷ 1,000 x Levy Amount
example: $100,000 AV ÷ 1,000 = 100 x $1.50 = $150
What's My Property Value? CLICK HERE
- Response Area: 76 square miles
- Population: 8,995 (2018)
- Stations: 1 staffed 24/7, 3 volunteer
Since 2016 South Thurston Fire & EMS has been actively seeking grants to help pay for large expenditures we would otherwise not be able to purchase. Some of those items that have been awarded include:
New Extrication Equipment ($30,000)
Portable Radios ($2,000)
Vehicle Exhaust Removal System ($65,000)
Rope Rescue Equipment ($2,000)
Volunteer Recruitment & Retention ($465,000 over 4 years)
Through this grant we have been able to train and equip 16 new volunteers in less than 12 months. The grant also provides $30,000 per year for a volunteer program coordinator, which is currently a position held by one of our full-time firefighter/EMTs.
- The average cost to outfit a firefighter with a set of structural firefighting gear is $3,165
- Maintenance and repairs on our fleet of emergency vehicles have averaged $14,000 per year
- Our newest fire engine was manufactured in 2004 and our newest ambulance in 2008.
- In 2018 we purchased a brand new Ford F550 chassis and transferred a bed from one of our older brush trucks to reduce costs. The total cost was around $62,000 and was paid for by funds generated from state mobilizations and no money was used from our general budget.
- Our newest water tender is a 1983 GMC. We recently ordered a brand new 3,000 gallon water tender to provide dependable water supply to fires in rural areas. We will utilize a low interest loan through the State of Washington.
- To send one candidate through the fire academy costs $1,600.
- Outside and ongoing training for one person can cost between $350 to $2,000 per class.
- Tenino station is staffed 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Admin and mechanic are 8-5 M-F
- 2 career firefighter/EMTs on duty 24 hours per day
- 28 volunteers that are a combination of firefighters, EMTs, and firefighter/EMTs. Average 2 to 4 volunteers on shift each day. Volunteers receive the same training as our career personnel.
- Current General Tax Levy ($645,778 in 2018, 2nd lowest in the County)
- Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance transports. Emergency Medical Services are paid for through the current tax levy, BLS transports to the hospital are not. Revenue from transports are used to support the EMS program and maintain our ambulances.
- State Mobilizations. We currently have 2 wildland firefighting trucks (brush trucks) that are available to mobilize to wildfires throughout the state and Oregon in the summer months. Each truck can generate up to $952 per day while on a mobilization.