Joyce fire levy lid lift failing

JOYCE — The property tax levy lid lift for Clallam County Fire Protection District No. 4, better known as the Joyce Fire Department, was failing with a 44.76 percent yes vote on Tuesday night.

Early results showed 385 of 697 voters rejected the levy lid lift.

If it passes, the property tax rate for the district will return to 76 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2009.

The current tax rate is 35.9 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Tuesday’s tally included all ballots received by 4:30 p.m. Friday, or 76.13 percent of the 45,766 mailed to registered voters across the county.

There are 1,412 registered voters in the district.

If the levy lid lift passes after more ballots are counted, the owner of a $170,000 home would pay $129 in yearly property taxes beginning in 2009.

Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand said her office counted 24,242 ballots on Tuesday, and had about 5,515 ballots in hand but not counted.

She expected another 6,000-7,000 ballots to have been cast by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Rosand will update results by 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Operating costs

The Joyce fire district is seeking more property tax revenue because of increased operating costs, said George Oldfield, fire district board chairman.

Seventy-six cents per $1,000 valuation is the same rate taxpayers approved in 1988, he said.

Without a public vote, the district was limited to a 1 percent increase in property taxes per year because of Initiative 747, which passed in 2001.

The district responded to 200 calls in 2007 compared to 75 in 1989, when the former rate went into effect.

“We want to restore it to that 1988-1989 level,” Oldfield said. “Citizens have a tendency to support their fire services.”

Oldfield said he was hopeful the levy lid lift would pass despite a tough economy and increasing home values.

Clallam County Fire Protection District No. 4 covers 52 miles from Joyce to Freshwater Bay. The fire district has 25 volunteers, six junior volunteers and four recruits, Oldfield said. It operates two fire engines, two full size pumpers, three water tenders and two aid cars, Oldfield said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at [email protected]

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