Mountain View Fire just short while Maple Valley Fire levy measure passing in first round of ballots counted Tuesday night | Special Election

Maple Valley Fire's levy was on its way to passing while Mountain View Fire was four percentage points as well as 347 ballots short of approval when the first round of votes were counted Tuesday.

More than half of those who cast ballots in the first wave in King County Fire District 44, also known as Mountain View Fire, gave their approval to Proposition 1, according to results posted to the King County Elections website. But, the levy needs a supermajority, or 60 percent approval, to pass.

If the levy, after all the ballots are counted, is approved the additional revenue from the four-year levy would allow the district to maintain its current staffing levels. District 44 serves 32,000 residents in 70 square miles in unincorporated King County and the city of Black Diamond.

District 44 currently collects $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. If the levy is approved, the additional maximum tax is estimated to be no more than $31 more a year or $2.58 a month per $100,000 assessed valuation.

According to information provided by Mountain View Fire Chief Greg Smith in March, a 39.8 percent drop in assessed property values during the past four years in Fire District 44 have led to a substantial drop in its revenues, more than $1.8 million since 2008. As a result, five administrative, support and maintenance positions in the past two years nor was a vacant firefighter position filled.

Smith wrote in March he believes this is a short-term need and will help District 44 get through the tail end of the recovery from the recession. Money raised by the levy would allow the district to preserve its current staffing levels.

Meanwhile, residents of Fire District 43, also known as Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety, approved that district's levy on Tuesday.

The Tuesday evening vote tally put the yes votes at 4,551, or 62.6 percent, and 2,712 no votes, or 37.3 percent. There are 25,109 voters in the district.

Passage of the levy will allow the district to maintain current service levels and prevent lay offs of an additional six firefighters. According to Maple Valley Fire, home values in the district have decline 31 percent since 2009, resulting in decreased revenue for the district. The district has cut its budget by $1.6 million by eliminating five firefighter/EMT positions and four administrative positions as well as decreasing training and other administrative costs. The district also dipped into its reserve fund to preserve staffing levels this year. The levy will cost homeowners approximately an additional $.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation over three years beginning in 2014. The district currently collects $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Chief Brad Doerflinger told The Reporter in February that he considered the levy a short term fix until home values rise again and return fire district revenue to previous levels.


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