Council hosts hearing for lid lift

The Port Orchard City Council is holding a special meeting next week to allow the public to comment on a proposed levy lid lift for South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, scheduled for a vote this May.

The hearing is set for March 6, at 6:30 p.m., and is designed to allow SK residents to discuss “the pros and cons” of passing the temporary levy, which would authorize “increasing the amount the district levies in property taxes by 14 cents per $1,000 valuation for six years.”

SKF&R Chief Wayne Senter said the increase will be used to add nine additional firefighter/Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to his department, which he said has been struggling to adequately cover the rapidly growing community it serves.

Monday’s hearing will be the second such discussion hosted by the council, which held a similar hearing during a regular meeting on Feb. 13.

At that meeting, Senter advised Councilmember Rita DiIenno that the amount raised by the temporary levy will complement a $900,000 federal grant awarded to the district for the hiring of additional staff, according to draft minutes of the meeting.

Senter said the levy is necessary because the grant only covers part of the firefighter/EMTs salaries, but the SKF&R Board of Commissioners agreed when approving the levy that the district would only take what it needed to pay those salaries.

“I promise our constituents that I will not take a penny more than what is needed to pay for those nine,” he said during previous discussions, explaining that spread over six years, the salary costs amount to $794,877 annually.

When Councilmember Carolyn Powers asked what impact this temporary lid levy lift would have on insurance for the citizens of Port Orchard, Senter said that the city currently has a fire insurance rating of a Class 4, which the district could maintain if the levy passed.

According to the minutes, three residents spoke in favor of passing the temporary levy.

Following the hearing Feb. 13, however, the council voted unanimously to continue the hearing to March 6, for the purpose of “allowing for re-notification (of the hearing) with the appropriate title and proposition number.”

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