by Richard Uhlhorn
Chelan County Fire District #7 (Chelan Fire & Rescue) is asking voters to approve the first Levy Lid Lift in 15 years. The Levy Lid Lift rate for Proposition 1 is at $1.10 and is based on the July assessments from the Chelan County Assessor.
“We took the latest assessment values from the Assessor we could get before the deadline to get the levy on the ballot,” said Chief Mark Donnell in a telephone conversation.
At the non-meeting on Wednesday; Phil Moller was tied up in Wenatchee and Karyl Oules was also unavailable, so there was no quorum. Chelan property owner Al Lorenz was at the meeting and gave the District what he calls the newest assessment numbers which could potentially give the District an additional $400,000 over their projected revenues.
Donnell stated that the District has not received the official preliminary value statement from the assessor’s office and said the numbers could change again.
Donnell said that even with the potential increase in tax revenue, the District will still have barely enough funds to do what needs to be done; primarily upgrading outdated fire units.
The Assessor’s office gave a $3,204,549,974.00 valuation for 2021 back in July, which was the number used by the District to project their figures. New assessment numbers will not be out for several more weeks.
In 2022, based on the Assessor’s July figures, the District would receive a projected $3,506,519.46 at the approved Levy rate of $1.10 per thousand of valuation. In 2023, it would receive a projected $3,435,337.00 at a $1.07 per thousand.
If the Levy fails, in 2022, the District would receive a projected $2,467,503.40 at the current $.78 cents per thousand.
If the voters decide to fail the levy lid lift (the first request for a funding increase in 15 years), the District would struggle to maintain the needed level of service and it would potentially result in having to let some personnel go.
Chelan’s EMS at Lake Chelan Health had no problem increasing their levy amount in order to purchase two new ambulances to replace the ambulances that are beyond their life span.
Chelan Fire District also has equipment that has reached or will reach its life span. The Fire District’s property owners deserve the best service.
With more and more properties being developed in the Lake Chelan Valley in the urban/wildland interface, the importance of having a well trained professional staff and volunteer base is necessary.
No one wants to relive the horrors of the 2015 Chelan Complex when South Chelan was in danger of being destroyed. This year’s wildfire in the 25-Mile Creek drainage could have been devastating to the homes on the South Shore and First Creek if it had been allowed to cross over into those two drainages.
Your YES vote guarantees continued quality service. If, for some reason, you vote NO on Proposition 1, be assured that Chelan Fire and Rescue will continue to respond to emergencies, but probably at much lower service level.