Opinion

Fire district needs lid lift

We agreed with the spirit of Initiative 747, and we’re big believers in the concept of governments and public agencies living within their means — just like the rest of us do.

That said, we also think Fire District 7’s request for a lid lift of 6 cents per $1,000 on local property taxes is a pretty reasonable request — one we can either swallow now or face even stiffer costs down the road.

I-747, you’ll doubtless recall, limits annual property tax increases to 1 percent unless voters approve a lid lift for some special purpose. Fire District 7 officials requested just such an increase in September and were turned down, but the measure will be back on the ballot in November. And this time we think voters should reconsider.

For one thing, an annual increase of just 1 percent actually amounts to a cut, because inflation is currently running between 2 and 3 percent. The district lost $245,000 in revenues last year and projects to lose $300,000 in 2003. If that happens, programs and staff will have to be slashed by 2004.

Not only would those cutbacks leave SK residents vulnerable in the event of a fire, but insurance underwriters would almost certainly downgrade the district from its current Class 4 status — meaning huge increases in homeowners’ insurance rates for every residence served by the district.

Monetarily, it’s simply case of paying a little bit now instead of a lot later. In terms of protecting our lives and property, however, it’s a price we hope we never have to pay.

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