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Rural Spokane communities seeking new, increased taxes in November election

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(The Center Square) – Voters in four rural communities in Spokane County will decide a handful of proposed excess property tax levies to fund fire and police services and operations of a municipal swimming pool.

Ballots are being mailed out this week by the Spokane County Auditor’s Office for the Nov. 7 general election. All the proposed measures require 60% voter approval for passage.

In Newman Lake, an unincorporated community northeast of Spokane, Fire District No. 13 has proposed a six-year levy for fire protection and emergency medical services. The district’s current levy rate is 79 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

District officials want to increase the rate to $1.30 per $1,000 in 2024, saying that would restore it to the same level as in 2012. After 2024, the rate could then be increased up to 6% annually – but only to an allowed maximum of $1.50 per $1,000 of valuation – by 2028.

In an online statement, district commissioners Ben Kaiser, Eileen Weyrauch, and Teresa Phelps said the “levy lid lift” is needed to meet annual operating budget needs.

“We, as commissioners, want to reassure the community that we need this funding and that, without it, our fire department will face severe cutbacks,” wrote the commissioners, saying they would decide annually if a percentage increase is needed to meet the next year’s budget.

The district wants to keep both its stations open and retain a full-time chief and firefighter, along with funding necessary for facilities, equipment, and support of volunteer firefighters and EMTs. The district has eight apparatus and a fire boat.

“We are in the business of emergency lifesaving and property protection, and we need to ensure that our people and equipment are ready to always serve you,” said commissioners. “However, this does cost money for the upkeep of aging equipment and facilities, for our staff and our volunteers.”

Elsewhere in Spokane County:

The Town of Rockford is seeking approval of a one-year replacement levy in 2024 for fire protection services. The measure seeks to collect $32,892 with an estimated assessment rate of 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.The Rosalia Parks and Recreation District has proposed a one-year replacement levy in 2024 that would collect $85,000 for maintenance-and-operations costs for the community swimming pool. The estimated levy rate is 48 cents per $1,000.The Town of Spangle has proposed two separate one-year levy measures: one for police protection, one for fire protection in 2024. Respectively, the police levy would collect $17,000 at an estimated rate of $1.19 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation; the fire levy would bring in $23,000 at a rate of $1.50 per $1,000.

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