CLALLAM: Fire District 2 levy lid lift defeated
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Mike DeRousie, center, president of the pro-Fire District No. 2 levy lid lift group, looks at election returns at the Clallam County Courthouse on Tuesday night. At left is successful Port Angeles City Council candidate Lee Whetham, and at right is Whetham's campaign manager, Paul Martin. DeRousie's wife, Kathy, is in the background.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County voters were rejecting an increase in the Clallam County Fire District No. 2 tax levy with 57.3 percent of the vote after the first round of general election results was released Tuesday night.

About 884 Fire District 2 residents, or 42.7 percent of the total 2,072, voted for the levy lid lift, which needs a simple majority to pass, while 1,188, or 57.3 percent, had voted against the proposition.

The Auditor's Office counted Tuesday 15,348 ballots, or 32.9 percent, 46,665 ballots mailed to registered voters.

About 5,000 on ballots were hand but uncounted and more are expected later this week.

The next count will be by 4:30 p.m. Friday, County Auditor Patty Rosand said.

Proposition 1 would increase the existing levy from 76 cents of property tax for each $1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.15 per $1,000.

This would mean, for example, an increase of $78 annually on a home valued at $200,000.

Disappointed by results

Mike DeRousie, Fire District 2 assistant chief and chairman of the Committee to Support Clallam County Fire District 2, said he was disappointed with the results.

DeRousie said he considered the levy lid lift all but defeated, citing the Auditor's Office figures that showed 96.6 percent of the 2,072 Fire District 2 ballots counted.

“I don't think that could be made up,” DeRousie said.

DeRousie said he was proud of way his committee ran the campaign supporting the levy lid lift.

Looking toward the future, he said he did not know how the fire district would ultimately contend with the apparent failure of the proposition.

“That will be up to the [fire] commissioners,” he said.

Eric Foth, chairman of Citizens Against Fire District 2 Levy, was pleased with the results.

“I'm happy with those and thankful that the voters got it right,” Foth said.

Foth said voters rejecting the levy lid lift speaks to a larger desire to curb taxes paid to local governments.

“I think people are just tired of their tax increases,' Foth said.

Supporters of the measure say the increase would ensure money for three of the fire district's four firefighter-paramedic positions now funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant expiring in 2014.

The increase also would establish 24-hour, seven-days-a-week medical and firefighter coverage for the district's 9,500 residents, Fire Chief Sam Phillips has said.

Opponents of the proposed 51 percent levy increase raised $12,050, through the Citizens Against Fire District 2 Levy committee, to the $5,650 raised by the Committee to Support Clallam County Fire District 2.

Of the amount in opposition, $4,250 was from employees of Sequim-based Olympic Ambulance.

Bill Littlejohn, the ambulance service's owner, has said if the increase is approved, Olympic Ambulance would lose the long-distance, advanced-life-support transports from Olympic Medical center to Seattle hospitals because his paramedics would lose their certifications.

Paramedics must show they have done specific procedures a certain number of times to retain certification.

Fire District 2 covers 85-square-mile area that includes Dry Creek, Black Diamond, Dry Creek, Lake Sutherland and Gales Addition.
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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 06. 2013 2:45AM
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