Fall City fire levy lift 'yes' votes leading

FALL CITY - A King County Fire District 27 levy vote on April 27, which would raise the district's current rate of taxation from $1 to $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, was passing as of late last week.

As of April 30, with all polls reporting and 90 percent of absentee ballots counted, the levy was passing by 57 percent. The levy needs a simple majority approval of more than 50 percent to pass.

The district that covers unincorporated areas in Fall City and close to Carnation has not lifted its levy lid since 1982, but has seen its rate of calls increase by 44 percent in the past 10 years.

"Nothing is final yet, but I wouldn't want to think of what would happen [if the levy didn't pass]," said District Commissioner Josie Williams. "It's way overdue."

The department has six full-time firefighters, with three covering a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift. Williams said the fire station has been trying to fill in the gaps in the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift and during sick leave and vacation days by relying more on its volunteer force.

"It has been a strain on the volunteer and career force," she said.

Although the district would not collect any levy lift money until next year, Williams said bringing on additional staff would be one of the moves the commissioners would consider first if a passing levy vote is finalized.

The approval levy vote comes just as the remodel of the fire station in Fall City is entering its final months of construction. That remodel was funded with a $2.41-million bond that was passed in 2001 and was separate from any levy, which always goes toward operating costs.

District 27 Chief Chris Connor was cautious about celebrating until the levy vote is finalized on May 7, but said he had faith in the citizens the firefighters protect.

"I was always confident that the voters would make the right choice," he said.

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