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News / Clark County News

East County Fire and Rescue district facing staffing and revenue woes, seeks levy ‘lid lift’

By Doug Flanagan, Post-Record staff writer
Published: February 20, 2024, 6:08am
2 Photos
Fire vehicles sit outside East County Fire and Rescue Station 91, just north of Camas city limits, in 2020. The fire district, which serves rural areas north of Camas and Washougal, recently used proceeds from a property sale to repay a $770,000 bond and save taxpayers nearly $100,000 in interest payments.
Fire vehicles sit outside East County Fire and Rescue Station 91, just north of Camas city limits, in 2020. The fire district, which serves rural areas north of Camas and Washougal, recently used proceeds from a property sale to repay a $770,000 bond and save taxpayers nearly $100,000 in interest payments. (Contributed by East County Fire and Rescue) Photo Gallery

East County Fire and Rescue leaders say they are facing staffing shortages, an aging vehicle fleet and a significant revenue shortfall that could lead to lower levels of service.

To avoid that, voters would have to approve a so-called levy lid lift, said East County Fire and Rescue board chair Joshua Seeds.

Daily emergency services are funded by a levy capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Over time, the levy rate falls as property values rise, which limits the fire district to roughly the same amount of revenue per year. The $1.50 levy that voters approved in 2019, for example, has now fallen to $1.07, East County Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin said.

The East County Fire and Rescue Board of Commissioners is considering placing a lid-lift proposition on a ballot later this year to provide adequate funding to maintain the district’s service levels.

Without passing a levy lid lift, Seeds said, the best-case scenario is that the fire district can keep operating at its current service levels through 2025.

The fire district covers about 10,500 people in a 60-square-mile area north of Camas-Washougal; includes full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters; and responds to an average of 1,100 calls a year on both sides of the Washougal River.

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