Voters approve Fire District 10 levy increase

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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The large majority of voters in northern Clark County’s Fire District 10 approved a property tax levy increase for the district, one that will go toward paying for new staff to ensure there’s around-the-clock coverage for the largely all-volunteer district.

The increase received 1,304 votes in favor and 329 against, according to unofficial results released from the Clark County auditor’s office Tuesday night, or 77 percent to 23 percent.

The district had the only item on Tuesday’s ballot, a property tax levy increase from 68 cents to $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value, all to pay for additional staffing.

Tuesday evening, district staff were seeing majority votes from all but one precinct, Battalion Chief Gordon Brooks said.

“We want to gain support from all of the people that we cover. It gives us something to work on, but with the overwhelming support we received from the community, we’re just ecstatic,” he said.

Brooks joked there’s a cellphone video of him jumping in joy being held as blackmail.

“We just want to take the trust of our customers and prove to them it’s a good investment.”

Typically, the district maintains dedicated staffing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, with the rest handled by volunteers, according to district staff.

Volunteers responded to 728 service calls last year and 731 in 2015, according to the district. Fire District 10 covers about 64 square miles in the northern reaches of the county, and is home to more than 8,000 people.

The district has about 48 volunteers along with Brooks, who’s full-time, and Fire Chief Sam Arola, who works half-time. The levy will pay for a full-time firefighter-medic, and possibly two more.

At the current levy rate, owners of a $300,000 home in the district pay about $204 in property taxes annually. With the levy increase, that home will see about another $96 in taxes per year.

Turnout as of Tuesday night was about 30 percent, out of nearly 5,600 registered voters. The auditor’s office said Tuesday night 250 ballots still needed to be counted.

The vote needed a simple majority to pass, and did not have any minimum turnout requirements.