Vote yes to help renew fire, EMS in south county

Published May 9, 2013 at 05:00AM

As a director of the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District and a resident in the district, I urge my fellow voters to vote yes on Measure 9-90 to renew funding for the replacement of equipment at the same tax rate as we are currently paying.

This measure is a replacement of a 10-year capital bond for apparatus and equipment. The existing bond expires in July 2014 and the proposed measure would extend the current tax rate of $0.23/$1,000 for 10 years as a levy rather than a bond.

In doing so, the district would be debt free and save the taxpayers more than $336,000 in interest and fees associated over the life of a bond. The district has used 10-year bonds since 1974 to purchase apparatus, equipment and facilities for the district, which the voters have renewed four times with the last being in 2004.

The proposed 10-year capital levy will keep district taxpayer rates the same and sustain the current level of fire and emergency medical services.

It replaces an expiring 10-year capital bond levy with a tax rate of $0.23/$1,000 assessed valuation with a capital local option levy with the same tax rate starting in July 2014. If approved, a home valued at $100,000 would continue to pay $23 per year ($1.92/month). Estimated annual tax to be received by the district is $214,000.

The advantage of a local option levy is the taxpayers do not pay for the cost of issuing a new bond and there is no interest payment. The district will also be debt-free for the first time since its inception. This proposal will save more than $336,000 over the life of the measure while maintaining levels of service.

The district has $8.1 million in capital assets and a long-range capital plan to replace facilities, fire trucks, ambulances and equipment in a responsible, efficient and systematic manner.

The local option capital levy is projected to fund over 10 years:

• Replacement of three paramedic ambulances, which each average 150,000-200,000 miles at replacement.

• Replacement of three 25-year-old wildland fire engines.

• Replacement of one 20-year-old structural fire engine.

• Replacement of one 25-year-old water tender/tanker.

• Replacement of one 25-year-old first response/quick attack fire truck.

• Replacement of two 15-year-old utility vehicles with more than 160,000 miles at replacement.

• Replacement of 15-year-old self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters.

• Replacement of 10-year-old firefighter protective clothing and gear.

The La Pine Fire District has weathered the recent economic downturn by prioritizing and frugality. The district continues to improve with the efficient and effective use of taxpayer funds by the use of best management practices, ongoing strategic planning processes, 10-year budget planning and continually analyzing and improving expense and revenue structures.

The district has highly trained and professional career and volunteer staff. As one of the district’s five elected directors, we have significant public emergency management and business experience. The directors set district service goals and provide oversight of fire/EMS operations. The district has a yearly external audit of its finances and procedures, which is open for review by the public. I urge you to support the local option levy for equipment.

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