Fire District 44 Board of Fire Commissioners considering levy

Significant loss of revenue has required the Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 44 to take steps to reduce the budget for the district. The recession beginning in 2008 has reduced revenues available to operate the district over the last five years.

“We have seen a loss of $1.2 million over the last several years, seeing another reduction for 2013 of $ 283,686”, said Chief Smith. “We have reduced the budget and augmented operations through the use of emergency operating funds, reduced our support and admin staff by five positions and not replaced a vacant firefighter position. It has gotten to the point that we will be required to make some significant reductions and these will impact our ability to provide emergency services, these are cuts we have tried to fend off, this is our mission we are talking about, what we are here for."

The Board is considering placing a levy on the April ballot to help raise additional revenue.

“We see this as an opportunity for the citizens to let us know what level of fire and emergency medical services they want," said  Commissioner Farrell. “We want to hear from the public first, before we make more serious reductions to the budget that will affect our ability to provide emergency services, we don’t want to institute critical reductions without asking the public. We have not increased wages for chiefs, staff and support personnel for several years, the Chief and Deputy Chief have turned down wage increases prior to this. We all hoped that things would improve, but it has been just the opposite."

The proposed levy would not replace the loss seen over the last several years, but would provide enough funding to prevent further cuts, to include reductions in career firefighters or closing of fire stations.

The Board of Fire Commissioners will be discussing the levy at the Feb. 12 meeting and taking final action to decide on the levy at the Feb. 26 meeting. Board meetings take place at the district headquarters station 32316 148th Ave. S.E., Auburn. Meetings are at 6:30 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.

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