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Fire Facilities, Fleet & Operations Levy

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Fire Facilities, Fleet, & Operations Levy Lid Lift

 

News Releases and Presentations

 

Fire Chief Tory Green presented the levy lid lift to the City Council at the April 9, 2024, Study Session. 

 

 

 

About this Levy Lid Lift

The proposed City of Tacoma Fire Department (TFD) Facilities, Fleet, & Operating Levy Lid Lift will be on the November 5, 2024, ballot. This measure would support much-needed improvements to TFD facilities, fire engines, essential equipment, and new staffing to improve response capacity and firefighter safety. 

Safeguarding our Community

The Tacoma Fire Department's mission is to protect people, property, and the environment and compassionately serve the community. Over 450 firefighters serve our response area from 17 fire stations staffed 24/7/365. There are roughly 72 square miles within the City limits and contract areas of Fircrest and Fife/Pierce County Fire District 10, along with 44 miles of shoreline, 25 square miles of saltwater, and an estimated population of 243,000. In 2023, we responded to 51,499 emergency incidents. 

 

What is a Facilities, Fleet & Operating Levy?

This measure would update and upgrade aging TFD facilities, emergency response vehicles, essential equipment, and improve response capacity and firefighter safety. This levy would be paid for by a permanent increase in property tax.

 

Why is it needed?

  • 85% of TFD's facilities were recently rated as in poor or critical condition. Facilities Master Plan
  • Existing fire facilities do not provide safe and healthy working environments for first responders and support staff.
  • Over 60% of our fleet is past its useful life, and many fail to provide adequate safety and reliability for emergency response (For example, the inability to pump water into a burning building).
  • This levy helps us keep up with growth. Since 2013, our area’s population has grown 9.6% but TFD’s call volume increased by 32%.

What will the levy pay for?

It will provide $8M per year to address facilities, $3M per year to address apparatus needs and replacement of essential equipment. This funding will allow the department to deploy additional first-response units to reduce ever-increasing response times and provide stable funding for existing staff and department operating expenses. Examples of essential equipment are the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) firefighters use to breathe safely while fighting fire, and vehicle extrication equipment used to remove victims from vehicles involved in major collisions.

 

How will I benefit from the levy?

This funding will allow the department to deploy additional first-response units, which means there are more firefighters available to respond to an emergency in your neighborhood.

 

Why now?

Simply put, the levy helps us keep up with growth. Budget constraints have prevented the department from adding adequate additional first-response resources over the last 30 years, despite annual call volumes increasing from about 17,000 to over 50,000 today. This levy lid lift will allow TFD to establish dedicated funding to add resources to meet increased demand.

 

What will happen if I vote no?

It is predictable that our response times will continue to take longer, and our apparatus, stations, and essential equipment will continue to deteriorate.

 

Is anyone exempt from the levy?

Qualifying seniors, veterans, and others would be exempt, per RCW 84.36.381.

 

How much will it cost me?

The average Tacoma homeowner (with a house valued at approximately $450,000) will pay $25 more per month if this levy is approved.

 

Levy details:

  • This is an increase to the permanent regular property tax levy by $0.65 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2025;
  • This would increase the 2026-2030 levy by up to 6% to maintain the $0.65/$1,000 rate; and 
  • authorize the 2030 levy amount as the base for computing levies in succeeding years.

Is homelessness the reason for the increase in call volume?

  • Many factors contribute to the utilization of fire department emergency response resources.
  • The population in Tacoma has increased and continues to grow. More residents typically result in more calls to 911. 
  • The increasing lack of access to healthcare and mental health resources in the community results in some people using 911 as their primary healthcare provider for those desperately needed services. 
  • Those experiencing homelessness also have many of the same health conditions as their housed counterparts, but in extreme conditions and with fewer resources, resulting in heavy reliance upon emergency services.

How to Vote

Questions? 

Fire Chief Tory Green welcomes your questions at (253) 591-5774 or email tfdfirelevy@cityoftacoma.org.

 

firefighters

 

 



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