My father has moved away and no longer is paying property taxes in the Graham Fire and Rescue district. But if he was, he’d be more than happy to write the check – and he’d be voting for the district’s levy in the election that wraps up in a couple weeks.
You see, he’s one of the legions of current or former residents of the fire district who know firsthand the potentially lifesaving importance of its emergency medical and fire protection services.
When my mother’s health was declining about 10 years ago, my dad had to call an aid car twice to their condo. I was there on one of the occasions and witnessed the compassion and professionalism of the paramedics while dealing with my mother’s condition and my emotionally distraught father. The crew provided a badly needed calmness to the situation and a comforting reassurance for my dad.
There is no doubt that the roughly 60,000 people who live in Graham Fire’s service area can expect the same kind of fast, efficient and caring response whenever they need it, and for whatever reason they need it. That’s why the proposed maintenance and operations levy should be approved.
I don’t live in the district. It’s not my tax dollars that will be collected, so people who are reluctant to vote for any kind of tax measure will disregard anything I say on this one. But it’s hard for me to imagine any personal scenario in which anyone should turn away from the district’s request for a maximum of $11 million over a four-year period. The yearly take, at a rate between 52 cents and 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, would begin in 2015 and end in 2018.
Fire districts depend on property tax revenue to pay the bills for sending a fire truck or an aid car when they’re called. Like it or not, that’s the current structure for their funding. And it’s some of the best-spent money I can imagine. Everybody has either needed a firefighter or emergency medical attention, or knows someone who has. You never know when you’ll need help, so paying for the service now helps guarantee you’ll have it later.
Graham Fire and Rescue, through the management and policies of its administrators and elected commissioners, has done a good job of living within its means and providing a level of service that the public wants and can count on. There’s no doubt the district will continue that track record to the best of its ability, regardless of the outcome of the election when ballots are counted after the close of voting Aug. 5. And the district’s job will be easier – and its customers will be able to rest easier – if the election result is a big yes.
Dispatch editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 360-832-4697.