SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Fire districts and cities in the Mid-Willamette Valley are making budget cuts following voters’ rejection of operating levy increases in the May election.
The Statesman Journal reports the levy failure for Marion County Fire District 1 means a $2.4 million reduction in the department’s operating budget, including $1 million in budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year that will take the form of laying off three people and other cuts in service.
The Stayton Rural Fire District won’t have to make cuts, but it will have to continue to rely on a dwindling pool of 50 volunteers, down from 60 a decade ago.
The measures looked like sure things when they were filed, but when the pandemic hit, it was too late to pull them from the ballot or modify them. And the consensus is that taxpayers were uncertain of the future due to economic uncertainty decided against the increases.
“It’s just bad timing,” Stayton Rural Fire District Chief Jack Carriger said.
Stayton City Manager Keith Campbell agreed the timing was bad.
“I think we had internal discussions with the COVID issue and the uncertainty people had and people losing their jobs, it’s a challenging time to go out and say hey, we need support on resources,” Campbell said.
Marion County Fire District 1, which serves 55,000 people over 80 square miles, faces steep cuts after its 99 cent per $1,000 of assessed value levy failed.