Northern Lakes fire levy headed toward failure - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Northern Lakes fire levy headed toward failure

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Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:00 am

It was going down in flames again.

As of 12:30 this morning, Kootenai County elections officials said the Northern Lakes Fire District's $1.6 million permanent override levy proposal wasn't faring well, with roughly only a third of votes counted in favor.

At least 67 percent approval was needed for the levy to pass. Voters turned down the same proposal in May with only 30 percent approval.

Northern Lakes serves Hayden, Hayden Lake, Rathdrum, Twin Lakes and Garwood.

While not all of the votes had been counted, Chief Dean Marcus issued a statement as it appeared the levy was heading for rejection.

"What can I say?" Chief Dean Marcus said. "The voters have shown that they are not ready to stand behind their fire district and those dedicated individuals that provide emergency services to their family and themselves, at a level we truly need. To be honest, I am saddened by the lack of support shown.

"I do want to express my sincerest appreciation to those that supported us with their 'yes' vote and those who took efforts at getting the word out to the public either in person or by letters to the Press. We will now have to re-evaluate where we are and what changes we will need to make to continue to provide the best services we can with what we have available."

To the owner of a $200,000 home with a homeowner's exemption, a levy approval would mean a $64 annual increase in taxes or $5.25 per month based on today's property values.

District officials said they re-floated the same levy because of the larger voter turnout on Tuesday than in May and they believe the district's 15-year plan needs to be implemented.

The funding was aimed at constructing a third station north of Hayden in four to six years, providing staffing for the site, improving an existing training facility and providing vehicle and equipment replacement programs that currently don't exist. The current station in the Garwood area on Hudlow Road can't be used for a manned station. The plan calls for adding three personnel per year until a total of 12 are on board to staff the new station.

The levy funding did not include salary increases.

Marcus earlier said if the strategic plan isn't funded, NLFD will consider consolidating with other agencies, which he said will likely cost taxpayers more than the plan and without as many benefits.

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