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Fire chief outlines levy request to City Council
South Kitsap Fire & Rescue representatives called on the Port Orchard City Council to show support for the SKFR emergency services levy renewal that will be on the April 17 ballot.
The council will have a public hearing at its Feb. 28 meeting to consider whether or not to pass a resolution in favor of the levy, which provides about $1.7 million of SKFR’s $12 million budget.
Fire chief Wayne Senter explained the impact the temporary six-year levy lid lift has had since it was approved in 2006, and fire district commissioner Paul Golnik asked for the council’s endorsement of the levy.
“I’m here to ask for support of the council,” said Goldnik, a retired captain with the Bremerton Fire Department.
The ballot measure asks for another six-year renewal of the lid lift, which expires at the end of this year. If the levy does not pass, Senter said the $1.7 million funding loss for SKFR would require cutting 20 employees.
That would likely include paid positions that provide 24/7 staffing at the Bethel Road and Manchester fire stations, which have been funded by the temporary levy increase in recent years.
Senter said that 15 percent of the service calls are to sub-urban and urban areas like within the city limits of Port Orchard, but account for over 60 percent of total calls. He said a loss in $1.7 million from SKFR would devastate response time to calls.
“I want to be very clear so people know what happens if this levy isn’t renewed,” Sentor said.
SKFR has 102 employees and 60 active volunteers at 16 total fire stations throughout South Kitsap.
Councilmembers Rob Putaansuu and Jerry Childs, a retired Seattle firefighter, wore t-shirts in support of the fire department renewal levy. The red shirts said “seconds count,” and urged voters to approve the levy.
Other notes from Tuesday’s council meeting:
• Port Orchard Library Branch member gave her annual report of the Port Orchard library. The report included information about the library’s growing digital collection, a new library computer system and the changed library hours. Wilson said the library would soon get a new library roof and carpet, and hoped for more “reading nooks,” quiet places where people could read.
• The council adopted amendments to a 2011 comprehensive park plan, submitted by James Weaver, the city’s planner. The council omitted a section of the plan that included an outline for a future Parks Department. Weaver said a State RCO grant the city again hoped to recieve required the city pass an update to the park’s plan.
• Local Coffee Party Chariman Don Manning asked the city pass a resolution that refusing to recognize corporations have the same rights as individuals. In his appeal, Manning said that “there is no reasonable justification to give personhood to companies,” and that many small towns across the U.S. have made similar decrees. The city council heard the statement, but made no move to pass a resolution.