District 4 levy narrowly passes

The Douglas County Fire District 4 station in Orondo. (Provided photo/Douglas County Fire District 4)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Three weeks after the Nov. 6 general election, results for the Douglas County Fire District 4 fire and emergency services levy were finally conclusive. Election results certified on Nov. 27 show that the levy passed by four votes, with 290 “yes” votes and 286 “no” votes. In previous tabulations, the results had rocked back and forth between passage and failure.

“It was a little bit stressful,” DCFD4 Chief Jim Oatey acknowledged. He added, “We were hopeful that it was going to pass and it came through.”

At $0.97 per $1,000 assessed property value, the levy is an increase of $0.385 per $1,000 assessed value over the previous levy. The total amount collected will increase to $527,108 per year from the previous $318,119 per year. Future levies will use $0.97 per $1,000 assessed value as the new base rate.

Prior to the election, the district informed voters of its plans to build a new station at the north end of the district, so that the large amount of new construction in the Beebe Bridge area will be within five miles of a fire station — a key factor in determining home insurance rates.

The district is also working to set up a stipend program to increase the number of firefighters on duty during the peak season.

Thirdly, the increased funds will help the district to pay upfront for equipment replacement rather than buying equipment on loan, and paying out money in interest.

Oatey said that between Nov. 1, 2017 and Oct. 31 of this year, the district received 203 calls, the highest number ever. He said that in responding to these calls — whether they be fire or aid calls — every second counts and the passage of the levy will help the district to minimize its response time.

“We’re just really thankful to the voters for supporting us,” Oatey said. “We’ll be good stewards of their money.”