Marion County Fire District #1 is independent of Marion County and the State of Oregon, operates under a balanced budget, and has a long history of passing its financial audits. Emergency services are funded through a permanent property tax rate of $1.90 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Until 2020, 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 percent or $2.4 million to provide emergency services.
Message from your Fire Chief – November 9, 2020
Marion County Fire District #1 wants to thank those who participated in the recent election. Our local option levy was up for renewal, and the outcome was not as we had hoped.
The local option levy accounted for 30 percent of our revenue to provide emergency services. Its loss means that we have to make cuts to service levels, which includes laying off emergency personnel, taking apparatus out of service, and closing fire stations.
New service levels will take effect on January 1, 2021. We will communicate with you in advance about these cuts, and how it could impact your family and business in an emergency.
These will be very difficult decisions for us to make, and we ask for your understanding in the days and months ahead. Please feel free to contact me with questions at email@example.com or (503) 588-6535.
Marion County Fire District #1
In May 2020, the Fire District had asked voters to increase the local option levy by 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Then COVID-19 hit, causing economic uncertainty. The ballot measure was not approved, which resulted in the entire levy failing for the July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021 fiscal year.
As a result, the Fire District was forced to make service level cuts to balance its budget. These actions included reducing staffing levels from 14 to 10 firefighter/EMTs per shift and cutting hours of service for apparatus and stations that respond to emergencies in Macleay, Labish Center, and Clear Lake. This is causing increased response times of up to five minutes for parts of the Fire District or longer when mutual aid is required from neighboring fire agencies.
These impacts are being felt district-wide. Personnel and apparatus in these communities also respond to emergency calls in Four Corners, Middle Grove, Pratum, Brooks, and Chemeketa.
Employees agreed to almost $1 million in reduced wages and benefits to balance the budget. These voluntary concessions reduced the number of emergency personnel layoffs to keep as many “boots on the ground” as possible, but more cuts will be necessary without the funding provided by the local option levy.
The Board of Directors for Marion County Fire District #1 asked voters to renew the local option levy for emergency services at the same rate of $0.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value during the November 3 General Election. The local option levy accounted for almost 30 percent of funding for emergency services for communities served by the Fire District. It was not approved by voters for a second time.
IN THE NEWS
Marion County Fire District says to expect slower responses to emergencies if staffing cuts take hold – Salem Reporter June 18, 2020
Opinion Editorial – Statesman Journal – 5/4/2020
Salem Reporter – 1/23/2020
Marion County fire district to ask taxpayers for higher levy, worth $6.7 million