COEUR d’ALENE — Permanent levy override proposals in two fire districts were narrowly defeated Tuesday, while levy proposals in two school districts passed.
Northern Lakes Fire’s levy override received 65.9 percent approval (1,108 votes in favor, 573 opposed), but a two-thirds majority — 66.67 percent — was needed for it to pass.
“I will not ask for a recount because I do not want to tax the citizens or county (for the cost),” Chief Pat Riley told The Press late Tuesday night. “Once again, the voters have spoken. We will ask the voters what they’d like us to do. I don’t look at this as a defeat, but direction.”
The district, which covers Hayden, Rathdrum, Garwood and Hayden Lake, floated a permanent override levy of $850,000 per year.
Meanwhile, the override levy of up to $290,000 proposed by Timberlake Fire, which covers Athol, Bayview, Chilco and surrounding areas, received 58.7 percent approval (427 in favor, 301 opposed). It, too, needed two-thirds approval for passage.
The Kootenai Joint School District levy of $1.5 million over two years passed with 72 percent approval (216 in favor, 84 against). A simple majority is needed for school levies to pass.
The Bayview Water and Sewer District’s bond proposal was strongly defeated with only 29 percent approval (69 in favor, 169 against). A simple majority was needed for it to pass.
Here’s a closer look at each of the funding proposals:
Northern Lakes levy
The funding would have added six firefighters/EMTs so that a third facility in the district, at the corner of Garwood and Hudlow roads, could be staffed.
The district estimates that, based on today’s property values, the property tax increase would have been $41.40 per year ($3.45 per month) for the owner of a $200,000 home.
Northern Lakes’ call volume has steadily increased from 3,362 in 2012 to a record 5,053 in 2018.
The district proposed an override levy of $1.6 million twice in 2012 and both requests failed. The district went back to voters last November with a $1.2 million request to hire nine personnel, and that failed as well.
Riley said he’s noticed that there is a perception that growth pays for itself entirely, but that’s not the case.
“We are just one of several taxing districts that are impacted by (growth),” he said. “We embrace it, but we also need to be able to maintain services and levels that the public expects and deserves.”
Timberlake Fire levy
Patrons living in a $200,000 home in the district currently pay about $19 per month for coverage.
Residents would have seen an increase of about $5 per month, according to district officials.
The funds would have been used to hire two firefighters, expedite the replacement process for three engines and facility upgrades that includes adding living space at the Bayview station, improving a training room and a station roof repair.
This was the first time in the district’s 20-year history that it requestd an override levy.
Chief Bill Steele said the district provided six levy presentations and produced two information newsletters in preparation for the election.
“Once misinformation was correctly presented, a majority of those who commented support their fire district and indicated the levy amount requested seemed reasonable and justified,” Steele said. “Our fire district team will continue to provide the best services we can with the resources the citizens provide us with.”
Bayview Water and Sewer bond
The district floated a water bond proposal for water improvements after another measure failed last November.
The district, which includes 462 water hookups, sought water revenue bonds of up to $2.15 million for a new storage tank to replace one built in 1942, transmission lines, distribution mains and maintenance projects.
The bond would have increased rates from $24 per month for the first 5,000 gallons to up to $40.
November’s proposal was defeated with 112 voters (37 percent) in favor and 191 opposed.
The difference between the two proposals was that $500,000 for water meter replacements was cut for Tuesday’s election.
The district estimates that between 4,000 and 6,000 feet of pipes are leaking in the system, which also raises water quality concerns.
“The board was unified that this project is the right solution for our customers,” said Sharon Meyer, district chairwoman. “We selected the project that addresses many of our water system’s problem areas, including low pressure, leakage and fire protection while keeping costs affordable.”
Kootenai school levy
Annual property taxes for the levy will remain the same as the current year at $1.19 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The owner of a $200,000 home with a homeowners’ exemption in the district currently pays $13.15 per month for school taxes. That amount will remain unchanged as a result of Tuesday’s vote.
The proposal will replace an expiring supplemental levy of $750,000 per year for two years.
St. Maries school levy
Voters approved a $2.073 million replacement levy with 1,174 in favor and 536 opposed.
The funding provides about 24 percent of the district’s funding. Another measure proposed by the district was defeated in March.