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North End voters ignite levy lift

POULSBO — Poulsbo Fire Department officials have something to cheer about after Tuesday’s vote, which passed their levy lid lift by a 55 percent margin.

In the city, 3,615 residents cast their ballots in favor of the lift, outweighing the 2,935 who voted against it.

The lift will help Fire District No. 18 increase staff, equipment and facility capacity next year and fund such changes through 2013. the amount fell to 88 cents.

Not everyone was pleased with the higher tax, though.

“I wasn’t against the levy, I was against the increase,” said Poulsbo Police Department detective Grant Romaine, who was among those who spoke out against the hike. “Everyone else has to live inside their means, the fire department should, too. The increase is hitting people hard. I think people who live outside the city in the external reaches will benefit, but residents who live close won’t see a change.”

Last year, PFD officials saw an increase of 16 percent in their call volume, the highest in Kitsap County.

As a result, the district is thrilled to have the lift, which will provide continued and better service to the ever growing area, Ingalls said.

“We feel pretty happy,” Shields said. “We have an in house strategic planning committee we’ll bring back to look at what we’ll be doing next year. We’re also looking down the road at when we’re going to start hiring.”

The next election update will be posted on the Kitsap County Web site at 4 p.m. today, and can be seen at www.kitsapgov.com.

“I’m pretty happy,” said PFD Chief Jim Shields. “I’m not surprised it passed. I fully anticipated it would pass.”

In 2008, property owners will see an increase from 88 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.29 per $1,000, marking an additional 49 cents to next year’s expected levy fund.

The additional $1.7 million raised annually will allow the district not only to hire more employees but update its equipment and staff the Surfrest Station in Lofall.

“We’ll be starting to plan and decide what to do with the new money,” said District 18 Fire Commissioner Jim Ingalls. “I doubt we’ll have anything starting until 2008, but we’re sure going to look at different things we can do.”

In 1987, the district sought a levy of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, and that amount stayed fairly stable until Initiative 747 was approved by Washington voters in 2001. I-747 restricted the funding of certain entities, like fire districts and libraries, by stipulating they could only increase their revenues by 1 percent each year. Because levies have an inverse relationship to property values, dropping as the values increase,

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