Fire district announces it will not seek levy lid lift

Editor's note: the following is a release issued by the local fire district and signed by Chief Joe Clow

One thing about life that I have continually observed is how much timing affects the things we do and the decisions we make. Over the past several months, the members of your Enumclaw Fire Department and the Board of Fire Commissioners have been meeting with and talking to our families, friends, and neighbors concerning a variety of issues. The Seattle Times this past Sunday (2/12) lead with an article on how home foreclosures are affecting us; and, fire department staff had the opportunity to meet with King County Assessor Lloyd Hara to discuss the near-term future of economic conditions in our community. All of this has lead the members of your fire department to the conclusion that now is not the time to ask our community and customers to support a tax levy issue. The Board has decided to defer any ballot measure relating to property tax levy.

We have accomplished a great deal in the past few years in regard to improvements in Fire and Life Safety Services. With that in mind the Board of Fire Commissioners feel that now is a good time to slow the process and to evaluate how effective these changes are instead of continuing on to the next phase of this development.

This means that the fire department has to reevaluate our future plans and set goals that may focus more on short term (the next 1 to 3 years) issues and solutions, and less on the long term (the next 4 to 8 years); specifically, this means that large capital expenditures will not take place as planned in the next few years and that staffing plans will be on hold for that same period of time (1 to 3 years). The most immediate needs of the department will still be addressed; for example, replacement of equipment and tools that are required to be replaced regularly.

These items will be reevaluated and reprioritized resulting in extended replacement periods. For example items that were due to be replaced over a 5 year period may have to be extended to 7 or 8 years. This does not mean that firefighter safety has to be compromised at any time during this process.

It is important to note that we, the members of the fire department also live, work, play, shop and pay taxes in this community; our children attend Enumclaw schools; and we understand the difficulty of these uncertain financial times.

The fire department and the fire commissioners will be scheduling opportunities for our customers to be involved in helping us plan what that future looks like.

Joseph M. Clow, Fire Chief

King County Fire District #28/The Enumclaw Fire Department

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