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Fire Levy is a No Vote

The fire levy is a no vote. This levy is way too expensive. If you notice they never mention how much money is actually leaving everyone’s pockets. They are asking for an 87% increase in 2018 and then by 2023 that grows to 2-1/2 times what they are receiving today. Today they get $2.4 million in property tax money. In 6 years that will grow to $6 million with the 6% increase each year. They are not mentioning this either.

While the VIFR levy rate has decreased over the years, the amount of property tax money the fire department has collected has increased each year. This is because as property values increase, the levy rate drops and the department still receives 1% more. This year Vashon property values have increased by 17%.  In 2017, VIFR collected $2.4 million with the levy rate of $0.94. In 2018, if this levy passes and with the increase in property value, VIFR will collect $4.5 million. This is an 87% increase, both for VIFR and each and every taxpayer.

For the homeowner in a $500,000 house today, this levy is very expensive. In 2017 the taxpayer paid $468. In 2018 that would increase to $878 and by 2023 it could increase to $1,174. This would be just for the fire department.

The levy includes 6% yearly increases. By 2023 VIFR would collect $6 million. This is 2 1/2 times what the department receives today. With budget discussions still in process, it is unclear exactly how the money would be used.  While we may be told that the commissioners would probably not vote for this large 6% yearly increase, that is exactly what they are asking us to vote for. Why would the commissioners put something on the ballot they have no intention of using? Why would they ask for so much money without a detailed plan?

 Vashon can not afford this levy. One in nine (11%) Vashon residents use the Food Bank. One in six (16%) Vashon households have an annual income below $25,000. Affordable housing on the island is almost impossible to find. This large tax increase is unsustainable for us as homeowners and renters.

What the Fire Department receives:
Assessed value for all taxable property on Vashon in 2017 is $2,561,553,262
Adding 17% for the increase of assessed value for 2018 is $2,997,017,317
Total Revenue expected
2017: Levy rate 0.93679 = $2,399,637
2018: Levy rate 1.5(purposed) = $4,495,526
This $2,095,888 is an 87% increase in one year
With the 6% yearly increase the Fire Department revenue would increase to:
2019 = $4,765,258
2020 = $5,051,173
2021 = $5,354,243
2022 = $5,675,498
2023 = $6,016,028 This is $3,616,390 increase from 2017 and a 2 1/2 increase
a levy rate of 1.38 brings in $4,135,884 ($1,736,247 more each year - 72% increase)

A $500,000 house in 2017 becomes a $585,000 in 2018 due to a 17% islandwide increase
Fire property taxes:
2017: $500,000 x 0.93679 per $1,000 (levy rate) = $468
2018 $585,000 x 1.5 per $1,000 (purposed levy rate) = $878
This $409 increase is an 87% increase in one year.

The proposed levy says that the levy will be raised each of the next 5 years by 6% not to exceed
$1.50 per $1,000.
Increasing our taxes 6% each of the next 5 years on the $585,000 house in 2018:
2019 = $930
2020 = $986
2021 = $1,045
2022 = $1,108
2023 = $1,174 This $706 increase from our present taxes represents 151% increase

What this will mean in property taxes to the homeowner with a $500,000 house today: