Banks Fire District, Elections, News

On the ballot: a renewal for the existing Banks Fire District levy

Voters who reside in the Banks Fire District will see Measure 34-335 on their ballot, a measure to renew the existing local option levy that funds more than a third of the operations of firefighters in Banks, Buxton, and Timber and surrounding communities, according to Banks Fire District spokesperson Scott Adams.

The question before voters, required by the Washington County Elections Division to be a plainly worded phrase that describes the measure is thus:

“Shall Banks Fire District maintain fire and emergency medical services by levying $0.97 per $1,000 [Assesed Value] for five years?”

A yes vote will maintain the existing tax rate of $0.97 per $1,000 of assessed value on a property for five years; taxpayers will see no increase in their taxes.

Should voters reject the measure, their taxes will go down, and the Banks Fire District would lose roughly one-third of their funding, significantly curtailing the district’s emergency services throughout the 136 square mile territory Banks Fire serves, according to Adams.

“We would clearly hope that that wouldn’t be an issue. Our voters have been spectacular at recognizing the value in the services that we provide,” he said.

Presently, the Banks Fire District is able to staff the Banks Fire Station 24/7, while volunteers, who make up 92% of the district personnel Adams among them, are present less frequently at the district’s two other stations, Hornshuh Creek Fire Station in Buxton and the Timber Fire Station.

That would change if voters said no to the five-year renewal.

“We couldn’t keep a 24/7 crew. We couldn’t keep services at the level we have them now,” Adams said.

This year, the district won’t seek an increase to cover what Adams said is a growing bill to provide emergency fire and medical services in the region.

“The reality is that we need an increase,” Adams said in an interview with the Banks Post. “But being respectful of the community and everything else that is going on, we understand that things are tight for everyone.”

Separately, Banks-area voters are being asked by the Banks School District to approve a bond that would raise taxes already, and other local jurisdictions, including Washington County and the city of Banks are facing budget shortfalls.

The election is May 21, and ballots have been sent to voters. A list of ballot drop sites can be found online; locally, the Banks Public Library hosts a 24 hour ballot drop site, and voters can also mail in their ballot with no postage required as long as it is postmarked by 8 p.m. Election Day.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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