Measure 24-452 Would Restore Funding for Emergency Services

Wildland fires and higher call volumes are placing stress on Marion County Fire District #1. Call volumes have increased 10 percent compared to August and September of last year. Back-to-back emergencies also account for 58 percent of calls to the fire district. All this comes as the agency lost almost 30 percent of its operating revenue for emergency services for this fiscal year.

Last May, the fire district had asked voters to increase its local option levy during the Primary Election. The tax increase was voted down due to economic concerns associated with COVID-19, and took with it the entire local option levy needed to provide emergency services.

Since that time, the fire district has made cuts to maintain a balanced budget, which it is required to do by law. These cuts have included reducing minimum staffing levels 14 to 10 firefighters per shift, reducing station hours and staffed apparatus. Employees and emergency personnel also accepted cuts to wages, mandatory furlough days, and cuts to health care benefits.

The Board of Directors for Marion County Fire District #1 is asking voters to renew the local option levy at the original amount – so no increase – during the November 3 General Election. The fire district is hosting two public meetings to answer questions about the ballot measure, which is titled Measure  24-452.

The meetings will be held via Facebook Live (/MarionCountyFireDistrict1) or the fire district website (www.mcfd1.com) on October 15 (5:00 p.m.) and October 21 (7:00 p.m.). Fire Chief Kyle McMann will provide a brief presentation and then take questions from the community.

If voters approve renewing the local option levy for the same amount, it would restore some staffing levels, and maintain staffed emergency units to respond to higher call volumes. If the request to renew the local option levy is unsuccessful, the fire district will have to permanently close stations and lay off additional firefighters and paramedics. This would take additional emergency units out of service, and further increase response times across the fire district.

More information on the local option levy can be found on the fire district’s website at www.mcfd1.com. Chief McMann also is available to answer questions at (503) 588-6535 or kylem@mcfd1.com.