Frequently Asked Questions
What’s on my ballot?
Marion County Fire District #1 is asking voters to approve a five-year local option levy of $0.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Why is my fire district asking for this?
Emergency services are funded through a permanent tax rate of $1.90 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Until last year, the Fire District also received a local option levy of $0.71 per $1,000. The local option levy was not renewed by voters, which means the Fire District lost 30% or $2.4 million annually to provide emergency services. Call volumes have increased 50% in eight years (17.3% since February of 2020 alone). Current staffing levels are unsafe for the public and our firefighters.
What has been the effect on emergency services?
Losing funding from the local option levy resulted in permanently closing two fire stations, laying off 12 firefighter/paramedics and reducing the number of staffed emergency apparatus from 5 1/2 to 3 units. When responding to calls, firefighters may only be able to fight a fire from outside the building (versus an interior attack), which puts lives and property at greater risk. We frequently have just one staffed apparatus to cover our 80 square mile service territory. At times, like during the recent ice storm, there are no emergency units available to respond to calls at all.
What has been the effect on response times?
Response times have increased one minute and four seconds on average since last year. To put that in perspective, a fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. In 60 seconds, patients can experience brain and heart muscle damage from lack of oxygen due to stroke or heart attack.
What will the levy fund?
Funding would be used to improve response times by filling nine of the 12 emergency responder positions that were cut due to revenue losses, and placing a dedicated and fully staffed fire engine back in service 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
How much will it cost? How long will it last?
The levy will last for five years and cost $0.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This chart provides an estimate, or you can take the assessed value on your property tax statement and multiply that number by 0.00059 to figure out your annual cost.
Why don’t you recruit more volunteers to respond to calls?
MCFD#1 responds to an average of 8,100 emergency calls per year. The volume of calls requires full-time, career staff to provide a guaranteed response. We actively recruit volunteers throughout the year, but volunteer numbers fluctuate and none are available full-time. For example, 12 people have volunteered since we lost funding, but we lost 20 others because they moved or had too many commitments in their work or family life. That means we’re responding to calls with not only 12 fewer full-time staff, but eight less volunteers, as well.
Is my fire district part of Marion County government?
No. MCFD#1 is a Special District independent of any county, city or state government. The only funding we receive is from property tax revenues.