BEND, OR -- Voters approved two Bend Fire tax levies in Tuesday's election. Battalion Chief Dave Howe says the measures cover two separate regions protected by District Two, "Taxpayers pay the same exact rate for fire protection in both the city and the rural district, so they're the same amount per thousand. We just had to have two ballot measures."
The five-year levies renew the existing 20-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, originally passed by voters in 2014. They're expected to bring in about $12.5 million for the department. Bend Fire Chief Larry Langston tells KBND News, the measures allow the agency to maintain current service levels for both fire and medical services. "We're very pleased with what's happened, the support of the community, the voters, and it's been one of those things that means a lot to the service we deliver. So, yeah, we're excited down here." Revenue from the levies is spent on staff, equipment and training, as well as staffing and equipping two Basic Life Support ambulances.
The Fire Department issued a thank you letter to residents:
The City of Bend Fire Department and the Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2 wish to thank the voters of both entities for their trust and confidence in these organizations, as shown by the recent positive levy results. Your approval of the levy measures will ensure that the Bend Fire Department can continue to provide the best possible fire protection and emergency medical services to the community.
We are dedicated to fire and life safety, community risk reduction and positive collaboration with all segments of public safety in the region, and what we value most is our connection to our community.
Thank you all for your votes and for making our community safer. We are truly Partners in Protection.
In Sisters, voters approved two five-year levies, Tuesday, benefiting schools and parks and recreation. Bob Keefer, with the Sisters Park and Recreation District, says the new funding will go a long way toward expanding programs for kids, "It's really an honor to see the voters in Sisters country really support us and understand the value we bring to the community." The parks district levy imposes a property tax hike of 15-cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Winter Lewis was Chair of the Sisters School District Political Action Committee (PAC) and says the vote proves residents care, "We feel fortunate to have a pass rate percentage-wise by about 68% this year, which speaks to the wonderful support we have in the community here in Sisters with our schools." The school district levy renews the current 75-cents per $1,000 property tax rate for schools, for another five years. Winter says it was important that both districts get the funding they need, "It all ties together, it's a small community out here, and programs in both the Park and Rec and the schools go to support each other." He tells KBND News, "Given that the Sisters Park and Rec District, quite frankly, has been underfunded for several years, it's just been remarkable that they've been able to provide the programs they have. [They've been] underfunded relative to other park and rec districts of similar size in neighboring districts."