Sunday, May 26, 2024

Evergreen levy request is warranted

by Daily Inter Lake
| April 21, 2024 12:00 AM

Evergreen Fire and Rescue has always taken pride in maximizing its resources to best serve the community. The department is taking that same fiscally-prudent approach with an upcoming levy request to shore up staffing and fund new equipment purchases.

“We’re resilient, it’s a badge of honor that we always make do with less,” Chief Craig Williams  said during a recent presentation to community members.

Still, he warned, they’re struggling to make ends meet. 

The department’s revenue stream was delivered a sizable blow last year when Logan Health set up its own ambulance service. For the past 15 years, Evergreen Fire and Rescue contracted with the hospital system to provide transportation services, with that income accounting for approximately 40% of the department’s operational budget. 

Ten staff members were laid off as a result of that service agreement ending, and today the department does not meet National Fire Protection Association staffing recommendations.

The levy is needed to help make up the funding difference and return the department to a service level the community expects.

The levy funding would provide Evergreen with round-the-clock coverage from three paramedics and three EMTs, seven days a week. It would also support wage increases to help with firefighter retention.

The levy would also help replace aging equipment. Currently, the department does not meet NFPA apparatus standards. Board officials assure the community that a strategic plan is in place for equipment purchases, and that no funding will go to frivolous waste.

It’s also important for voters to note that the 2019 levy to support Evergreen Fire would be allowed to expire if the new levy is approved.

On all accounts, this levy request checks out as reasonable and warranted, and worthy of community support.

Ballots are set to arrive this month and must be returned by May 7.