Voters within the Cowlitz County Fire District 1 coverage area will be asked to approve a fire levy lid lift in the upcoming Aug. 1 primary election. The coverage area includes the Green Mountain Road area, Woodland Bottoms and beyond Merwin Dam up Lewis River Road.
The lid lift would be from 88 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.50. Homeowners with a $300,000 home currently pay around $264 annually. If approved, that would increase another $188, resulting in $452 total.
“There’s never a good time to ask voters to pay more, especially when property taxes just went up, but we’re a volunteer fire district that relies on neighbors serving neighbors,” Fire Chief Eric Dehning said in a news release. “In our rural community it’s important we support each other, because when emergencies happen, they happen quickly.”
There has not been a voter-approved funding increase in the district since 1981. Although the district said it continues to pursue grant money whenever possible, what they receive has not been adequate.
The district reports that most of its vehicles used for emergency response are over 20 years old, and a large portion of its equipment no longer meets state standards.
Calls within the district has almost doubled since 2010, according to the district.
The district said funds would go toward maintaining facilities and replacing outdated personal protective equipment along with plans to eventually replace aging emergency vehicles.
“When seconds matter, it’s critical our volunteer fire crews are equipped with the right tools to save the lives of your family and friends during a fire or medical emergency,” Dehning said.
The district encourages citizens looking for more information to call 360-225-7462 during the week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to talk with the chief or a volunteer firefighter.