Ballots Must Be Returned By 8:00 P.M. May 18 to Count

Marion County Fire District #1 may be in the fight of its life during this election.

The Fire District serves 55,000 people over 80 square miles. It is an independent taxing district and receives no revenue from Marion County, the state or federal government. Last year, it lost 30 percent of its revenue for emergency services when its local option levy was not renewed. Since that time, firefighter layoffs have resulted in longer response times, closing stations and taking apparatus out of service.

“We’re responding to 50 percent more calls than seven years ago with 12 fewer firefighters – actually, 22 if you include the volunteers who have left due to burn out,” said Fire Chief Kyle McMann. “We can’t keep going like this. We are responding to well over 8,000 calls a year, and must have more personnel to provide an adequate response. The current situation is unsafe.”

MCFD#1 is asking the community to approve Measure #24-455, a local option levy of $0.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value during the May 18, 2021 Special District election. That’s approximately $59 (or $4.92 per month) per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The Fire District had a local option levy of $0.71 per $1,000 until last year. It had asked to renew it, but that request was turned down. Loss of revenue necessitated significant cuts to service, and the community has seen response times increase by more than a minute.

One-minute delays are significant in emergency services. In 60 seconds, patients can experience brain and heart muscle damage from lack of oxygen due to stroke or heart attack. A patient’s chance of recovery declines by 7-10 percent for every minute help is delayed.

Measure #24-455 would rehire nine full-time firefighter/paramedics to increase the number of emergency units able to respond to 911 calls to four. The Fire District currently has three units responding down from 5.5 a year ago.

“We’re hoping this is a good compromise for our community,” said Chief McMann. “Every little bit is going to help us do better.”

Ballots are due to Marion County Elections or in an official drop site location by 8:00 p.m. on May 18, 2021. A list of official ballot drop sites can be found in the Marion County Elections Voter Pamphlet at www.co.marion.or.us/CO/elections/Results/Documents/20210518/Final%20May%202021%20Voter%20Pamphlet.pdf.

More information about the local option levy can be found at www.mcfd1.com. Fire Chief Kyle McMann also welcomes questions at (503) 588-6535 or kylem@mcfd1.com.