MANSON — Manson voters will be asked on the Aug. 6 primary election ballot to support recommendations of a citizens task force and build a new fire station, create a fund dedicated to equipment replacement, and hire a volunteer coordinator.
Chelan County Fire District 5 is seeking a $4.135 million bond to build the station, and also wants to lift its current levy lid and add 56 cents per $1,000 assessed value of property within the district.
Fire Chief Arnold Baker said the requests stem from recommendations of a citizens task force, which formed last year, and came up with a list of ways to keep the fire department volunteer while improving services and facilities.
The task force found that Manson’s fire department is “above average” in its response performance, is financially stable, has a positive and forward-leading leadership, and is well-equipped.
However, the same group determined that both of the fire district’s facilities are in significant need of updating with below standard living spaces and quarters, and is vulnerable in terms of staffing and availability of response. The district’s fire and medical calls have nearly doubled since 2009, jumping from 216 to 403 in just four years.
Baker said after reviewing seven specific recommendations by the task force, the district’s board of commissioners adopted a plan to follow them.
One of the district’s main issues is that it does not own its main fire station, but instead rents it, Baker said.
He said ever since the fire district began collaborating with the EMS district to respond to emergency medical calls, EMTs and paramedics have been sleeping at the station, despite less-than-ideal conditions. He said diesel fumes linger in the building after a fire truck is taken out. A new fire station would resolve that issue, he said. Commissioners have not yet chosen a site, and will wait until voters support the idea before purchasing property for a new fire hall
Lifting the levy lid would also enable the fire district to hire a person who could coordinate volunteers, and set up a replacement schedule for the district’s trucks.
The new levy would raise about $331,000 per year, adding 56 cents per $1,000 assessed value, for a total of $1.02 per $1,000 assessed value.
Baker said when the district last purchased a pumper truck in 2008, it knew it would need to make another replacement in about three years. However, the recession stalled those plans, and reserved have dwindled. The added levy funds would fully fund an equipment replacement schedule, using about $142,000 of those funds, he said.
It would also add some $50,000 in stipends to distribute to volunteers to provide incentives for becoming certified. The lack of certification by Manson’s firefighters was one of the issues of the Washington State Ratings Bureau in its last review, he said.
Ballots will be mailed to registered voters in the Manson district in mid-July.