Revised levy proposed for Evergreen Fire

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Captain James Boyce of the Evergreen Fire department fights a fire in a motor home fire on Nov. 9, in the parking lot of the old Wal-Mart in Evergreen in this file photo. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake file)

Nine months after voters in the Evergreen Fire District rejected a tax levy to increase funding for Evergreen Fire Rescue, a new proposal has been developed.

Ballots will be mailed Tuesday, March 12.

According to Chief Craig Williams, the district’s plan seeks a levy of 37.72 mills for 10 years. That would equal about $631,500 annually, with 12.54 mills of the request reserved for capital improvement, approximately $210,000.

The impact would be $50.93 per $100,000 of taxable value or $101.85 for a home valued at $200,000. That compares with the failed 2018 levy request that would have raised property taxes by $168 annually for a home valued at $200,000.

The current levy expires June 30.

“The community spoke last year and we went back to the drawing board,” Williams said. “We appreciate the community’s support and we want to continue that, but we need their help.”

Williams said the department’s call volume keeps increasing. It received 2,935 calls for service in 2018.

If the reconfigured levy request fails, the department would have to lay off employees, Williams said.

“Certainly we don’t want to do that, but we’re up against it with the current funding expiring at the end of June,” he said.

Williams also explained what the department would do with the money, if voters OK it.

“Some of the money would provide limited benefits for personnel and limited retirement,” he said.

But the bulk of it would go toward replacing some of the aging fire trucks. One engine is 19 years old and another is 14 years old.

“We’d like to replace the older engine by late summer. There is a ton of maintenance and repair costs on some of these trucks,” Williams said.

He added that the department looks for vehicles he describes as “gently used.”

“You can’t afford to buy new trucks because most of them are running three quarters to a million dollars.”

Williams said ambulances weren’t an immediate need because they had just bought one a few years ago with the help of grants from the Department of Transportation.

Fire District Trustee Fallon was against the 2018 levy proposal that asked for a 70.63 mill increase, beginning at about $1.15 million and increasing by 3 percent per year. But, in a recent email to the Inter Lake, Fallon wrote that after a “critical looking at the needs” the district should ask for the reduced 37.72 mill increase.

The current levy costs about $35 annually for the owner of a home valued at $200,000.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com

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