Pullman area voters will consider 2 levies from their volunteer fire department during this month’s special election.
Whitman County Fire District 12 which serves the area around Pullman has the measures on the April 27th vote by mail election ballot. Those ballots are being sent out by the Whitman County Auditor’s Office on Friday.
If approved the measures will increase the property taxes that fund the volunteer department. The first measure on the ballot asks voters to consider a lid lift for District 12’s permanent fire levy. If approved it would return the levy rate to a dollar per thousand dollars of assessed property value. New construction and increasing property values have dropped the previously voter approved levy rate down to 80 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. If approved it would increase annual property taxes on 200,000 dollar Pullman area home by 40 dollars.
The second measure on the ballot for District 12 voters is for the EMS levy. It asks voters to consider maintaining the volunteer department’s EMS levy which expires at the end of the year. It would also return the EMS levy rate to its previously voter approved 50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value. If the EMS levy is approved it would increase annual property taxes on a 200,000 dollar Pullman area home by 20 dollars a year. If the EMS measure fails that property tax levy and revenue to the volunteer department will go away.
The levies generate about 400,000 dollars annually to fund the volunteer department. Whitman County Fire District 12 Assistant Chief Dave McKeirnan says returning the levy rates to their previously voter approved levels is critical. You can listen to Assistant Chief McKeirnan’s comment by clicking on the audio file below.
Ballot language for the measures is confusing. District 12 didn’t clearly identify the measures separately. There are 2 measures on the ballot but the first one references a decision for both the fire and EMS levies. The first measure that appears on the District 12 ballot is only for the fire levy. The second measure on the ballot fails to clearly identify that it’s for the EMS levy. The second measure that appears on the District 12 ballot is specifically for the volunteer department’s EMS levy.
The measures need simple majority approval along with a voter turnout threshold which must be met for passage. Over 650 Pullman area voters must participate in the election to validate the result. There are about 1,200 voters in the district.
Those vote by mail ballots must be back to the auditor’s office post marked by election day April 27th.