- About Us
East Pierce's outer settlements must pay their fair share | Letter to the Editor
In regards to East Pierce Fire and Rescue special levy one has to wonder why they are the only fire district in Pierce County Voter pamphlet asking for an excess levy. It's an easy answer – management. Go back to basic fire and EMS service and get all citizens receiving the service, paying one tax. Some citizens receive the same service without paying any taxes, others pay a smaller tax. If everyone paid equal share, the district would not need to be asking for some citizens to pay $2.38 in 2013 and $2.43 in 2014 (per $1,000 of assesed valuation).
This tells the story they have no plans to bring the district to one tax levy. I believe in helping my neighbor but we have carried those areas for 10 to 12 years; now is time to stop service or have them annex into the district and pay the $2 per thousand. The cities of Sumner, Edgewood and District 12 and 20 gave their station, equipment and property to District 22 (EPF&R) so why are three-fourths paying full bore and the other quarter paying a lesser amount, and will not vote on the levy or see increase in their taxes. Yet the district is paying for full maintenance and insurance on all fire stations in the covered area. Some stations are called unmanned, which means they are manned by volunteer; four years ago there were 80-plus volunteers now most have retired or just quit because of the way they were treated.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue was formed because the area became a bedroom community and the volunteers were gone most of the day, leaving daytime calls unanswered. Now, volunteers are gone by union choice so there can be more six figure jobs and only work eight days a month. Each staffed station is equipped with bedrooms, large screen TV and recliners. When the average person goes to work he is paid by the hour but a firefighter is paid for a 24-hour shift with scheduled eight hours of training and meeting Monday through Friday. Saturday Sunday usually do not have training schedule those days have a couple hours checking equipment and cleaning house and then wait for 911 call, and there are days and nights with no sleep, then there are days with no 911 calls, too.
The average firefighter wage is $60,000 to $180,000 plus benefits (sick leave, vacation. medical for all members of your family and retirement). Well over 85 percent of the budget is wages, like five chiefs bringing home a large six-figure check each year; then the commissioner receives a fee.
The Enumclaw Courier-Herald newspaper had several articles on this same subject about King County Fire District 28 and when a citizen learned all the details and that the chief's salary was raised to $180,000 which is comparable to East Pierce Fire and Rescue, and with all the feedback from the citizen, their commission decided not to run a levy and is maintaining service with less than $2 per $1,000.
In years gone by, fire budgets were based on $1, then Emergency Medical Service added 25 to 50 cents, then paid personal added another 50 cents, for a total of $2 plus the fire department collects revenue from insurance companies for transporting citizens. Now that the valuation is declining the district needs more tax dollars to live like kings, while the taxpayer struggles to balance its own household budget.
Let's just check "no."
Thanks for your help in keeping our taxes in tow.