Opinion

Fire District lid lift would save SK lives

With local property tax rates already too high, it would take a pretty compelling argument to justify anything that would increase them further.

OK, try this one — more of your neighbors are already dying every year than need to because it’s taking longer and longer for EMS crews from Fire District 7 to respond to medical emergencies. And with the population of the community steadily increasing, the problem is getting worse every day.

There was a time when local rescue crews could reliably respond to emergencies in five minutes or less, which assured a survival rate in the case of a cardiac arrest, for example, of 40 to 50 percent. These days, Fire District 7 Chief Mike Brown estimates it takes an average of seven and a half minutes, dropping the survival rate to more like 30 percent.

That’s real human beings — perhaps even you or your family — who could die needlessly in the next year if voters don’t approve the property tax lid lift masure on November’s ballot.

Currently, the fire district collects $1.40 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation; the lid lift would allow an increase up to $1.50, with increases of 1 percent annually thereafter — assuming no further lid lifts.

At that rate, the annual increases won’t even keep pace with inflation, let alone the expected appreciation of most South Kitsap homes. Still, it would allow the district to hire, train and maintain nine to 12 new firefighters and EMTs and would likely mean no further lid lifts for five or six years.

If the measure doesn’t pass, Fire District 7 will almost certainly be forced to cut personnel and close facilities, further increasing the risk to you, your family and your property.

From a strictly dollars and cents standpoint, it’s a pay-now-or-pay-later proposition because if the lid lift fails, the district’s insurance classification will be adversely affected, which would raise the cost of homeowners’ insurance by at least as much as the increase in property taxes.

But the safety of your neighbors and your family can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

No one likes tax increases, and we wouldn’t urge you to support one unless there was a good reason to. We think lives are a pretty good reason.

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