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Fire District 38 levy increase fails, cuts expected

NORTH BEND - The inability to pass a proposed levy lid increase at the polls on Nov. 4 is expected to result in cutbacks within King County Fire District 38.

Voters shot down the proposed increase with 63 percent "No" votes on the measure that would've increased the amount residents pay for the services of the district from 83 cents to $1.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. An increase to $1.50 that was proposed in September received a 65 percent disapproval.

District 38 is part of the Eastside Fire and Rescue consortium that serves Carnation, Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish, Preston, May Valley, Tiger Mountain and Wilderness Rim.

Facing a $700,000 budget shortfall next year, the district's three commissioners said the increase was needed to maintain the current staffing level of three firefighters, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Prior to the election commissioners said not receiving the additional funds would likely result in a number of those three firefighter shifts being reduced to a two-person rotation.

Under state law if firefighters enter a burning building, at least one firefighter must be present outside the structure. If a shift is cut from the rotation, District 38 firefighters would have to wait for backup from another department before entering a burning building.

Commissioner Steve Parsons said the next step is for the district's commissioners to meet with the advisory board of Eastside Fire and Rescue to discuss which cost-saving cuts could be made. Any cuts would likely not take place until the first of the year, he added.

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