Local News

Bend Fire Dept Levy On May Ballot

BEND, OR -- Bend voters will decide in May whether to approve an increased five-year operating levy for the fire department.

City Manager Eric King says the current rate is 20-cents per thousand dollars of taxable assessed value, “So, we’ve had ten years at that rate, without it changing. But during that same period of time, we’ve had a 60% increase in calls for service. So, in order to meet that increasing demand for service, we need to hire staff to respond to those calls and keep the response times down.”

King acknowledges going from the current rate of 20 cents per thousand dollars of taxable assessed value to 76 cents, which equates to about 19-dollars a month for a home with a taxable assessed value of 300-thousand dollars, is a big ask, “That’s always a challenging conversation to have, but it’s also a fairly basic service that I think our community expects to be able to have a response when they’re in crisis. So, we need to make sure we prioritize our public safety services. This is not a levy rate based on an aspiration. It’s based on what the community needs.”

Bend has a unique relationship with the surrounding rural fire protection district, which will also vote on the request. 

“The city of Bend not only provides fire and EMS services for our residents here, but we also provide that same service in the rural areas going all the way out to Brothers and all the way up to Bachelor; it’s a very large area. And so, there will be two ballots: one in the rural district and one in the city, for the same amount,” says King.

City Council unanimously approved a resolution this week, sending the question to the May ballot, but the levy wouldn’t take effect until next year.

The rural district resolution is expected to be approved at the county level next week.

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