The West Pierce Board of Fire Commissioners voted April 7, 2015 to place a four-year maintenance and operations levy request on the August 4th ballot. This four-year request is for $10.9 million dollars annually, replacing the existing levy. This amount will be collected each year, starting in 2016 and going through 2019. This is not a new tax, but a renewal of a maintenance and operations levy the community has supported for over 40 years. This funding represents approximately 35% of the operating budget. This levy request is $200,000 less, annually, compared to the current levy renewed by voters in 2013.
In the first four years following the merger of the Lakewood and University Place Fire Departments, West Pierce Fire & Rescue has seen a drop in assessed values of more than 20%. During the same time, the department has experienced an increase in call volume of nearly 10%. Already in 2015, the department has seen requests for service increase by 6% over the same period last year.
West Pierce Fire & Rescue holds a Class 3 rating from the Washington State Survey and Rating Bureau and is one of only three fire departments in Pierce County, along with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue and the City of Tacoma Fire Department, to receive such a high rating.
Chief Jim Sharp stated, “I am very proud of our efforts to provide the community with exceptional services utilizing the most cost effective methods possible. This Maintenance and Operations Levy provides the funding needed to continue providing our citizens with the high quality service they have come to expect from West Pierce Fire & Rescue.”
West Pierce Fire & Rescue is an all hazards fire department. Six fire stations are staffed 24/7 throughout the communities of University Place and Lakewood, providing fire suppression, paramedic response and transport, technical rescue, marine rescue, hazardous materials response, fire code enforcement, and a wide range of fire and injury prevention education programs.