News

East Pierce asking for two lid lifts

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

East Pierce Fire and Rescue is running two propositions known as “lid lifts” in the Nov. 8 general election.

According to Tri-District Chief Dan Packer, neither is a new tax, but is meant to return fire and medical service funding to voter-approved levels.

Packer said Proposition 1 renews the fire service levy, which will maintain the current level of fire suppression, rescue, and fire prevention services. Proposition 2 renews the emergency services levy, which provides funds necessary to operate and maintain emergency medical aid vehicles staffed by emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

Voters living in Bonney Lake, Lake Tapps and Prairie Ridge communities served by East Pierce Fire and Rescue had previously authorized a rate of $1.50 per thousand dollars of assessed value for fire service.

According to Packer, Tim Eyman's Imitative 747 affected the amount the fire district can collect, reducing rates to $1.30. Similarly, rates from the EMS levy have fallen from 50 cents to 41 cents.

“The costs in the district are running well beyond inflation,” Packer said. “We are only trying to catch up to what is approved.”

Packer added approval of both lid lifts is necessary in order to provide adequate service for an area that experienced a 20 percent increase in population over the last four years.

“We've seen over a 30 percent increase in calls in the last four years,” Packer said. “And a 55 percent increase in fuel cost. A citizen can consider driving a different vehicle, but we have to use our fire trucks and emergency vehicles.”

Officials said the district responded to more than 4,000 calls last year and so far this year the district is reporting a 9 percent increase. More than three-fourths of those calls are for medical emergencies.

The chief said the fire levy will cost 20 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation of property or $40 per year for a $200,000 home. The emergency medical services levy will cost $18 per year for owners of the same $200,000 home.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue was created in 1999 when the Bonney Lake Fire Department merged with the Lake Tapps Fire Department and Pierce County District 24. Also known as Pierce County Fire District No. 22, it covers approximately 44 square miles and protects a population of more than 45,000 residents.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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