On February 12, 2019, Spokane Valley Fire Department voters will be asked to replace the expiring four-year Maintenance & Operations (M&O) levy approved in 2015.
The four-year M&O Replacement Levy provides essential funding for the continued delivery of high-quality fire, rescue and emergency medical services to a growing population of more than 125,000 citizens across the greater Spokane Valley including Liberty Lake, Millwood and Otis Orchards.
At a Glance: 2019 M&O Replacement Levy
- Provides essential funding – the M&O levy funds 54% of the Department’s annual operating budget including firefighters and training needed to continue providing the high level of service our community has come to expect.
- Keeps up with growth – projected call volume and population increases as well as inflation are factored into the M&O levy dollar amounts
- Pays for capital needs – including fire engines and facilities. Careful planning for future capital improvements using levy dollars means no bonded debt for taxpayers.
- Replaces expiring M&O levy – this is not a new tax. It replaces the expiring four-year M&O Replacement levy approved by voters in 2015.
- Requires 60% approval – unlike school levies, the M&O levy requires at least 60% voter approval to pass
Planned Capital Projects: 2020-2023
In addition to day-to-day operations, the 2019 M&O Replacement Levy will pay for the following capital projects:
- Replacement of aging fire vehicles – continue replacing emergency response vehicles as they reach the end of their useful life
- Alternative Response Unit (ARU) – place at least one more two-person ARU into service in 2020 to support new medical service delivery model, providing cost-effective service for non-life threatening emergencies
- Equipment – essential emergency equipment including defibrillators, thermal imaging cameras, spreaders (‘jaws of life’) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs)
- Sullivan Fire Station #5 Remodel – minor renovations include the addition of a lobby to provide citizens with a 24/7 safe zone, a feature in all other SVFD fire stations
- Replace aging Maintenance Facility – built 25 years ago, vehicle service volume now exceeds the 2.5 service bays currently available in our maintenance and training facility. We need to double the size to meet our vehicle service needs for the next 20-25 years. Our plan is to build a new maintenance facility in a different location which will free up space to expand our existing training facility
- Growth – based on growth trends and projections, a new fire station (#11 – near Barker & Euclid), ladder truck and the firefighters to operate them will be needed in the next four years to continue to provide exceptional service to our community.
What is at stake if the levy fails?
- Service cuts in 2020 — Emergency response services will be cut by 54%, the funding gap created by the failed levy. This funding gap will grow in subsequent years.
- Station closures – Six of our 10 fire stations will close in 2020, leaving 4 stations to respond to more than 18,000 calls per year — or about 50 calls per day — covering a 75 square mile area with more than 125,000 citizens
- No Paramedics — Advanced Life Support (ALS) services provided by paramedics will be eliminated, due to cost and staffing.
- Reduced availability – with only 12 firefighters on duty responding to about 50 calls for service per day, firefighters will be much busier and unavailable to quickly respond to emergencies when they are in service on another call. In the event of a fire, ALL firefighters will respond, leaving the rest of the Valley with NO Coverage.
- Increased response time — four fire stations covering 75 square miles will mean longer wait times for citizens who have called 911 for help. In the likely event that one or more crews are busy on other calls, response times will increase dramatically.
- Higher insurance premiums – diminished fire response services will increase SVFD’s Fire Protection Class 2 rating to a 5/6, resulting in significantly higher fire insurance premiums for homeowners and businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is a Levy?
A. A levy is a local property tax that helps cover the maintenance and operational (M&O) costs of the fire department. It is also called a M&O levy, or special levy. M&O levies for SVFD are voter-approved and expire every four years, requiring voter renewal. SVFD has received voter support for M&O levies for nearly 50 years.
Q. Does the M&O Levy fund all SVFD services?
A. Spokane Valley Fire Department is funded almost entirely by the community we serve. Our Regular Levy is automatically included in your property taxes and currently provides about 46 percent of revenue. The M&O Levy currently funds about 54 percent of the services provided by SVFD and must be renewed by voters every four years. A small amount of revenue comes from grants, fees and investment earnings. SVFD carries no bonded debt – instead capital needs are funded by careful financial planning using levy funds, thus ensuring our tax dollars are not used for debt service payments.
Click here to watch Fire Chief Bryan Collins Levy Presentation Video.
If you have specific questions about the 2019 M&O Replacement Levy, please call 928-1700.