For the second consecutive year, the Spokane Valley Fire Department is asking its patrons for money. The agency has a measure on the February 14 ballot.
Last year, the department asked voters to renew its regular property tax levy, which provides the agency with about 60% of its funding. It was approved. This time, Chief Frank Soto, Junior says it’s asking voters to re-authorize its second major funding source.
“This maintenance and operations special levy, it expires every four years. This is just a replacement levy. We already all pay this right now. All we’re going to do now is lower it from what we’re currently paying and renew it,” Soto, Junior said.
The department proposes to raise $25 million a year from taxpayers for the next four years. Soto, Junior says much of that will allow his agency to replace older fire engines.
“We still have about 28 that are very high in mileage, which is over 121,000 miles and that are 20 years or older. We were really backed up because of Covid so we’re trying to catch up,” he said.
“Additionally, we want to put in a new training facility. Our current training tower is 36 years old. We cannot burn in it anymore. It is falling apart. The actual training facility that we have is just too small to support our needs. ”
The measure needs 60% voter approval to pass. If it doesn’t pass, Soto, Junior says he’ll have to make big budget cuts.
“What we would have to do is shut down three fire stations and I would have to lay off 66 personnel, 58 of those would be firefighters. The other eight would be civilians. That would be just to maintain through 2024,” Soto, Junior said.
Ballots for this February 14 Spokane Valley election will be mailed next week. You can read more about the levy at the Spokane Valley Fire Department website.