Marion County Fire District #1 held two public meetings in November 2019 to share information about the challenges we are having to provide emergency service. Specifically, call volumes are continuing to increase an average of 5.2% per year.
Overlapping emergencies also are straining our resources. In 2019, 55% of our emergency responses were back-to-back calls. Often, we have to rely on mutual aid from neighboring agencies, which can take longer to reach you in an emergency.
Our goal is to get to you as quickly as possible and we are struggling to do that. That’s why our Strategic Plan calls for hiring additional emergency personnel and replacing aging apparatus and equipment. Our goal is to replace apparatus and equipment without borrowing money, as that would cost taxpayers more due to interest payments. Less debt makes our fire district more secure financially.
On January 16, 2020, the Board of Directors approved a resolution asking voters to increase our operating levy from 71 to 99 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value during the May 19, 2020 Primary Election. This 28-cent increase would cost an additional $4.67 per month (or $56 per year) for the owner of a $200,000 home.
This will fund two firefighter/paramedics to respond to increasing call volumes, a deputy fire marshal, and apparatus and equipment replacement without having to borrow money. At the point we retire bonds, we may ask for additional funding for personnel and apparatus purchases. The point is to ask for funding as debt is paid off to minimize impacts to taxpayers.