The following is a FACT SHEET for Measure 20-269 and is designed to assist in explaining the need for a Renewal of the Local Option Tax for Operations-
The Junction City Rural Fire Protection District (JCRFPD) has submitted a renewal for the 5-year Local Option Tax for Operations on the May 16, 2017 ballot to continue to augment the District’s operating budget.
Currently, the District receives a tax rate of .98 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is among the lowest tax rates in the State of Oregon and has not increased since 1990. The average tax rate for fire districts in Lane County is $1.88 per $1000 of assessed value. The District is requesting to continue receiving .60 per $1,000 of assessed value. This would increase the total tax rate to $1.58 per $1000 of assessed value, which is still well below the average. For a home assessed at $150,000, the cost would be approximately an additional $90 per year, or 7.50 per month.
The department has 26 volunteers and covers approximately 67 square miles. The staff includes 5 paid firefighters (fire chief, training captain, and three firefighter/EMTs) and one part-time Administrative Assistant. The district currently responds to approximately 135 calls for service per month. The average cost of each call to the district is about $300.00. In 2016, JCRFPD responded to 1,624 calls for service. Since 2012, JCRFPD has seen a 23% increase in call volume.
The District’s operating fund, which prompted the need for a local option levy is used for:
JCRFPD is independent of the City of Junction City and does not receive annual revenue from the City, the State or Federal government. All revenue for the general operating fund is received through property taxes.
The District has always diligently attempted to operate with the lowest possible expenses, but the cost of maintaining the level of service the community requires, has surpassed the revenue the District receives from the permanent tax rate.
Prior to the passage of the levy 5 years ago, we were unable to meet the current operating needs. The district was unable to set aside the funds necessary to meet long-term goals such as purchasing or replacing critical equipment and apparatus. In fact, from August to November it was necessary to borrow from the district’s own capital purchase fund until the tax revenue is received in November. The District actively seeks grants; however, the available grants are always for specific purchases and cannot be used for general fund operating expenses.
The district estimates, without the renewal of the current operating levy, we will quickly find ourselves in this same situation again. This may require the district to seek funding from outside sources, such as borrowing from our capital purchase fund or from banks. The current level of service would not be sustainable (longer response times, limited resources and diminished ability for community outreach). One paid Firefighter/EMT position would have to be eliminated in the first year with a second likely to follow reducing the paid staffing to three paid Firefighter/EMT’s. The District would also be faced with the inability to sufficiently maintain critical equipment and fire apparatus let alone the consideration of replacement due to age.
The District deals with an aging fleet of response vehicles. Several of our vehicles are near or past their replacement age. NFPA has set limitations on how long an engine should remain in service. JCRFPD strives to meet these NFPA minimums for the safety of our responders and our ability to serve our citizens.
Click on the link below to see a recent news piece put together by Amber Wilmarth of KEZI news.
If you have further questions we can answer, please do not hesitate to call 541-998-2022
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