King County Fire District No. 44, also known as Mountain View Fire and Rescue which provides services to large areas of unincorporated King County including parts of Auburn, Enumclaw and Black Diamond, has been grappling with declining revenues for the last few years to the point that its Board of Commissioners this year is looking to ask the public to approve a levy in order to sustain current service levels.
According to this press release, the proposed levy would not replace the loss of funds or staffing seen over the last several years, but would provide enough funding to prevent further cuts, to include reductions in career firefighters or closing of fire stations.
"We have seen a loss of 1.2 million dollars over the last several years, seeing another reduction for 2013 of $ 283,686", said Chief Greg Smith. "We have reduced the budget and augmented operations through the use of emergency operating funds, reduced our support and admin staff by five positions and not replaced a vacant firefighter position, it's gotten to the point that we will be required to make some significant reductions and these will impact our ability to provide emergency services, these are cuts we have tried to fend off, this is our mission we are talking about, what we are here for."
Wages for the chief, staff and support personnel have not increase for the last few year with both the Chief and Deputy Chief turning down wage increases.
The Board invited the public to its meeting on Feb. 12 where it discussed the levy proposal and hoped to hear from taxpayers about what levels of service they were willing to pay for. It is expected to act on the proposal during its meeting tonight, Feb. 26, and again the public is invited to share their opinions and weigh in. If the proposal moves forward, the question of the levy will be placed on the April special election ballot.
Board meetings take place at the District headquarters station 32316 148th AVE SE, Auburn. Meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.