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Levy seeks station upgrades

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FALL CITY - Quarters are cramped for Fall City firefighters, even as the number of residents they protect increases. To that end, King County Fire Protection District No. 27 will place a bond levy on the ballot next month to help them expand their current facility.

The $2.4 million levy, which would be paid by property taxes on residents served by the fire district over the next 20 years, will be on the general election ballot Nov. 6.

Fall City Fire Chief Chris Connor said the $2.4 million will go exclusively toward renovation of the existing firehouse, located at 334th Place Southeast in Fall City. It would include improvements to office space, living quarters and sleeping rooms for the firefighters, but would not be used for new fire engines.

The money would be a welcome relief to the station that cannot presently keep firefighters overnight. The new additions would allow firefighters to be stationed at the building, thereby cutting down response time to emergencies.

"The biggest benefit is increased service to the area," said firefighter Jay Bluher. "It's badly needed for the growth of the area out here."

Bluher said the station is crammed as it is, with one office serving the entire crew. He said the closets are full and additional space is needed.

"The additional space overall would be a real bonus," Bluher said

The $2.4 million would be raised by an additional 35 cents added to the taxes paid by District 27 residents on every $1,000 of their assessed property value. Connor said District 27 residents already pay about $1.12 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed value on their home.

The last time the fire district passed a bond levy was in 1976, a vote that appropriated the funds needed for the original construction of the of the firehouse the district wants to renovate.

Connor said 14 volunteer firefighters and six career firefighters are stationed at the building.

If the levy passes next month, Connor said construction on the firehouse would occur in phases so the district could continue to service the area.

The fire district has offered to hold a community forum to debate the proposed levy, but Connor said he has heard of no formal opposition to the measure.

Of the 3,369 registered voters in District 27 who voted in last year's general election, 40 percent, or 1,348 of them, will need to vote in the election in order for the vote to be valid. At least 60 percent of those, or 809, will need to approve the levy in order for it pass.

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