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Fire district asking for renewed, increased levy

3:37 pm June 29th, 2012

The fire district that serves the Ashford, Elbe and Alder areas is asking voters there to renew and increase tax support for fire protection services.

A ballot measure for the primary election Aug. 7, if it passes, will reauthorize an existing property tax levy for Fire District 23. Proposition 1 would also allow the district to raise the rate as much as 47 cents, from the current $1.03 per $1,000 assessed valuation to a maximum of $1.50.

Collection of the tax would begin in 2013.

If the measure s defeated, the district could face service cuts because of a lack of funding, according to district officials.

The district’s commissioners – Alan Nelson,Gene Casey and Terri Farcy – voted unanimously in April to put the levy request before voters.

Revenue from the levy would help the district pay for fire protection and emergency medical services and personnel-related expenses, including training of firefighters.

The area of approximately 67 square miles that’s served by the district has about 2,500 residents and stretches to Mount Rainier National Park. Its 24-hour coverage is provided through four fire stations, 18 fire trucks and other apparatus, 26 volunteer firefighters and three paid staff members. The latter include chief Garry Olson, a batallion chief and a part-time administrative aide.

Two state highways – State Routes 7 and 706 – run through the district, which was formed in 1967. It has mutual-aid agreements with South Pierce Fire and Rescue, Eatonville Fire Department, Mineral Fire Department and the national park.

The district’s fire stations are in Ashford, Elbe and Alder in Pierce County, and in the Big Creek area of Lewis County. The latter is served by District 23 on a contract basis.

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