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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue levy lid lift would bump rate back to 2017 level

Measure would allow rate to increase to $1.50 per year for six years

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 26, 2024, 3:45pm

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue commissioners Thursday unanimously voted to put a levy lid lift on the August primary ballot. A levy lid lift allows a tax district to increase its levy rate above the annual 1 percent increase allowed by state law.

“It’s very similar to what we had on the 2017 ballot,” Chief John Nohr said Friday.

The levy lid lift approved by voters in 2017 was $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. But that has since dropped to $1.26. Nohr said the ballot measure would allow the rate to increase to $1.50 for six years.

The increased levy rate equates to an additional $10 a month in property taxes, or $120 a year, for a $500,000 home.

Nohr said the fire district doesn’t want to raise the levy rate, especially because many families are struggling with inflation and rising costs, but said commissioners had little choice.

In the last seven years, calls for service have gone up by 40 percent. With more calls for service comes increased costs.

“Everything has gone up,” Nohr said.

He said while the district is only allowed to increase its rate by 1 percent each year, fuel costs, labor, maintenance and equipment costs have gone up by 5 to 10 percent or even more each year.

Nohr said the next step will be to file the ballot measure with the Clark County Elections Office. The district will be looking for individuals interested in writing “for” and “against” statements for the county voters’ guide.

Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue covers Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield and Woodland. For more information about the district, go to https://clarkfr.org.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.