Voters in rural South Pierce County are seeing something new on their November ballots: a South Pierce Fire & Rescue bond measure.
The fire district, which serves a 138-square-mile area stretching from Roy to the foothills of Mount Rainier, has infrastructure needs that have increased along with the service area’s 23 percent growth in population between 2000 and 2010.
The district isn’t asking much, as bond measures go: $7.6 million – or about 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. That would cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $70 a year.
And it would deliver a lot. It would enable the district to replace the crowded, inadequate headquarters near Eatonville with a building twice the size in a centralized location near McKenna. The obsolete Roy station – which is more than 74 years old – and the Northwest Trek stations would be remodeled and improvements made to the other stations, including upgrades to their emergency power systems – essential in a widespread disaster such as an earthquake.
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Passage of the bond measure would do more than create better and safer work environments for district staff; it could save lives. Relocating the headquarters to a more central location will allow faster response times to medical emergencies, which make up about 75 percent of 911 calls.
The district has been a good steward of taxpayer dollars, avoiding layoffs even as the operating budget has decreased 31 percent since the recession hit in 2008. And citizens don’t pay out of pocket for ambulance transport.
In the rural communities that the district serves, volunteer firefighters are especially crucial. Taxpayers should support their neighbors by voting to improve the stations they work out of to perform their selfless service. n
We’ve already endorsed Central Pierce Fire & Rescue’s $39.8 million bond issue (editorial, 9-30), but it’s worth repeating. The measure would add only 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, costing the owner of a $225,000 home about $36 a year. That would pay for three new fire station buildings, major improvements to two others and lesser updates on the other eight stations.
This investment in infrastructure is badly needed if the department is to continue delivering the level of service that residents expect.
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