South Beach Fire Departments are looking to consolidate their resources, and are asking for the public to approve their request.
The Westport Fire Department, as well as Fire District 3 near the Ocosta High School, Fire District 11 in Grayland, Fire District 14 in Ocosta, and Pacific County Fire Protection District No. 5 in Tokeland are looking to form the South Beach Regional Fire Authority.
Grays Harbor County Fire Protection District No. 3, Grays Harbor County Fire Protection District No. 11, Grays Harbor County Fire Protection District No. 14, Pacific County Fire Protection District No. 5 and the City of Westport have adopted a Joint Resolution approving the South Beach Regional Fire Authority Plan (“Plan”) concerning the creation of the South Beach Regional Fire Authority. This proposition would approve the Plan and create the South Beach Regional Fire Authority, effective September 30, 2017 to provide fire protection and emergency medical services funded by regular property tax not to exceed $1.50 per thousand, a permanent EMS levy of $.50 per thousand, and an excess levy of $591,000.00 to be levied in 2017 for collection in 2018 at an approximate levy rate of $.86 per thousand dollars of taxable assessed value. Should the Plan to create and fund the South Beach Regional Fire Authority be approved?
As described by the districts, a Regional Fire Authority would consolidate and regionalize the fire and emergency services for the entire South Beach.
The new district requires a vote of the people.
If voters approve the request, the current fire and EMS taxes for each district would be replaced with a single tax that they say would be reduced for the overall region.
They say that the RFA would cost a $100,000 home $286 a year, instead of the current taxes they are paying.
The RFA would be funded with:
1.50 Fire Levy
.50 EMS Levy
.86 Excess levy
For a total of 2.86 per 1000 of assessed evaluation
100,000 home would cost $286 a year
*Which is an overall cost reduction over the South Beach according to the districts*
|2018 RFA Rate||Levy Rate Difference|
In a statement from the districts, they tell KXRO;
“The fire service today is facing many of the same problems that challenge private industry. The cost of providing service is expected to be kept at a minimum, while the quality of service increases. Taxpayers are demanding accountability from their city leaders while desiring an increase in safety and quality of life in their neighborhoods. The consolidation of fire departments in almost any community would mean cost savings for the taxpayers, with an improvement in services which includes government efficiencies. Savings in construction, administrative personnel, equipment, apparatus, staffing, and training are just a few of the areas where a savings would be seen. Additional benefits include providing a constant level of service; a more secure, sustainable, and stable funding foundation; a uniform level of training; and eliminating duplication of positions and services.”
Representatives from the districts say that by consolidating services, the overall service to the area would be improved, allowing these districts that already use mutual aid agreements to “work as a single unified team”.
“South Beach residents will continue to receive professional and timely emergency services. The consolidated fire service agency will benefit residents by providing their first responders with access to appropriate equipment and training opportunities; and coordinated, appropriate and timely emergency response. The only difference South Beach residents might notice is a regional logo on the side of fire engines and aide cars.”
In addition to combined resources, the districts say that merging will save money overall, eliminating the need for multiple administrative positions and excess vehicles.
Currently there are ten RFAs within Washington.