CENTRAL OREGON COAST FIRE RESCUE DISTRICT CRISIS
Too often we take for granted the services of our emergency first responders – the brave, dedicated Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who respond within minutes to offer their skilled assistance, whether it’s a medical emergency, fire, auto accident or a welfare check. We are proud of our well-trained, dedicated VOLUNTEERS and paid staff.
But right now our local fire district is in a financial crisis. We lost two of our four paid fighter/paramedics recently because we didn’t have the funds to meet the payroll.
The Central Oregon Coast Fire and Rescue District operates on a tax levy of just 82 cents per $1000 of value of taxable property in the district. Eighty-two cents was adequate in the early years of the district, but today our funding is now in the bottom 1/3 of fire districts in the state.
Overall operating costs have increased substantially since the district was created in 1998. Training requirements for VOLUNTEERS and staff have become much more involved, and many people can no longer invest the time required to be an active volunteer firefighter or EMT. Our budget is stretched beyond its limits with the cost of vehicles, insurance, fuel, wages, training, equipment, dispatch fees, utilities, supplies….the list goes on and on.
A ballot measure has been drafted for the May 17, 2016 election asking for a 5-year serial levy of $1.27 per $1000 assessed value of property within the district to help fill our large budget gap. This would produce a property tax increase of $127 per year on a $100,000 house to ensure that our fire district will be able to continue responding to medical calls, accidents and fires in the Waldport and Tidewater areas.
Please talk to your friends and neighbors. Feel free to ask questions of our fire board. And above all, imagine what you would do in an emergency without our local firefighters and medical first responders. This CRISIS affects not only those of us in Waldport, but everyone along Highway 34 to the 23-mile marker. In addition, the level of fire protection available determines the cost of insurance for our homes and businesses.
Equally important is quick response by trained medical professionals in life or death situations. Although Central Coast no longer provides ambulance services, Pacific-West Ambulance, which already provides ambulance service in many areas of Lincoln County, has stepped in to provide those services and are already operating out of our fire station. Literally nothing has changed in terms of response times or quality of medical services.
Again, please help us maintain and improve our fire fighting, fire prevention and the level of first responder (EMT) medical assistance to Waldport and Tidewater area residents. Please vote yes on measure 21-167.
The Central Oregon Coast Fire-Rescue District Board