The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Dallas Smith
For The Sentinel 

Suit against county and Fire District 3 seeks to protect levy rate

 


A lawsuit against Fire District No. 3 and Klickitat County has been filed by the Committee for Fair Taxation from Klickitat County Fire Protection District No. 3. Its members object to the decision of Fire District No. 3 Commissioners to make the current property tax levy permanent. On Thursday, Dec. 19, a meeting was held to present information about the lawsuit to the public. “We were answering questions on how we got to where we are,” says District 3 Fire Chief Chuck Virts.

In 2007 there was a policy in place that stated if a levy lid lift didn’t specifically state that it was temporary, then the levy lid lift was permanent. The policy was revised in 2008, but when the levy lid lift was passed, the policy of the lift being permanent remained in place. Fire District No. 3 commissioners were beginning to discuss running a new multi-year levy lid lift in April 2013, but when they consulted their attorney, Brian Snure, for aid in writing the new levy, they were advised by Snure that the levy lid lift already in place was indeed permanent. Hearing this, they set aside the levy and continued with business as usual, preparing their budget for the upcoming year.

The meeting on Dec. 19 allowed the Fire District No. 3 commissioners to hear from the community. Subsequently, the commissioners have decided to run a new levy in February of 2014. James Hulbert, the chair of the Committee for Fair Taxation From Klickitat County Fire Protection District No. 3, responded to the news of the plans for running a new levy by saying, “ That’s great. Voters voted on the language of the ballot, which gave the impression of a six-year levy.”

If the lawsuit should prevail, the Fire District No. 3 budget—currently $323,500—would make a drastic drop to $215,000, which is what it stood at in 2007. The district is creating an alternative budget in case of such an outcome. Should the suit prevail, the $15,000 in funding that the district gives to White Salmon to help pay for fire safety measures would have to stop, Virts says, and the funds for auto-repairs would go from $10,000 to around $500 or $600.

The suit at this time is still in litigation and a decision has not yet been determined.

 

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