Saturday, May 25, 2024

Chelan County Fire District #5 commissioners approve ballot measure for facilities, training and equipment


MANSON - It has been 10 years since the last tax levy for the Chelan County Fire District #5 was approved by voters in 2014. But since 2023, inflation has increased more than 18 percent, while the local fire tax rate has remained the same. At the same time, state law limits tax increases to 1 percent per year.


“The Chelan County Fire District 5 must operate within its income,” said Fire Commissioner and Chairman Fred Weiss. “Our district’s population has increased along with the number of volunteer firefighters. Plus, training and equipment expenses have risen along with everything else. What is more, our 29-year-old fire engine will need to be replaced soon.”


This cost-crunch has necessitated a levy-lift projected at $.75 which would be minimal compared to the 2014 Levy at $.89. The average home at $400,000 would be billed an additional $ 135.98 annually. However, some senior homeowners may be exempt from tax increases and may apply for tax relief, according to Chelan County Assessor Wes Cornelius. 


In addition to Commissioner Fred Weiss, Commissioners Dan Baker and Chris Willoughby voted unanimously to place the replacement tax measure on the August 6 primary ballot. 


“To keep our fire department readiness up to standard and improve the capabilities of our 42 volunteers with regards to structure and wildfire fighting, EMS and water rescue, our income must match our needs,” Fire Chief Arnold Baker said at the March 20, meeting at the Manson Fire station. 


“I am proud of every volunteer on our team. They go out of their way and put their lives on the line to serve and protect the residents and visitors to Lake Chelan and the town of Manson,” Chief Baker explained. “Over the next five months, we will be explaining the details of the replacement ballot measure so everyone will know what is at stake.” 


“When you look at the numbers and understand the importance of the services in a tinder-dry District such as ours, it is the purpose the District is presenting this ballot measure to the voters.” 


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