JOYCE — Voters have apparently approved a five-year property tax increase for the Joyce Fire District.
A simple majority is required for approval of Proposition 1, a levy-lid lift intended to help Clallam County Fire District 4 deal with declining timber revenue.
The initial count of ballots Tuesday night was 252 votes, or 63.32 percent, approving the measure with 146 votes, or 36.68 percent, opposing it. That was with a 25.03 percent voter turnout in the district.
The Clallam County Auditor’s Office planned another count of ballots in the all-mail election late Wednesday. Those totals are not reflected here because of press deadlines.
The measure increases the district’s levy rate by 69 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The existing levy is 81 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
The increase of 69 cents means property taxes on a home valued at $200,000 increase about $138.
The total Fire District 4 levy is $1.50 per $1,000.
The levy-lid lift is expected to generate about $150,000 annually for the fire district.
Fire Chief Greg Waters said the fire district in previous years has funded up to half of its nearly $500,000 operating budget with revenue from sales of timber on trust lands — an amount that has ranged from $90,000 to $200,000 during any given year — but last year timber revenue of $21,000 accounted for only 4.3 percent of the district’s budget, forcing the district to dip into reserves.
The tax increase also will allow the fire district to put some revenue aside to help fund vehicle maintenance and replacement as the fleet ages and to recruit and maintain volunteers.
The fire district is 80 square miles and has 4,000 residents. It covers the area between milepost 33.5 on state Highway 112 east of Pysht to Ram Hill Road and between the northern boundary of Olympic National Park and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.