ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Douglas County commissioners have approved an election in the Lookingglass Fire District area to re-form the district.
Fire district officials say they want to dissolve the current district and form a new one.
Board member Dennis Sifford says they're limited to the amount of money they can ask for from the public because of the Measure 50 tax limitation legislation.
He says to raise the amount of money they need to operate the volunteer department, they needed to re-form it with a higher tax rate limit.
He says they don't intend to levy that much if they don't need to, but they're planning for the future. "The Board of Directors is only going to assess what the budget needs are to our public," he told commissioners Wednesday. "We're committed to that, even though we're asking $1.55 a thousand as the increase, what our goal for that, is for long term planning and for long term viability of the fire district."
Some residents of the district were wary that the department really needed that much money to operate. Ford Swauger, a Lookingglass district resident told the board that the decision would go against what the people asked for. "In my opinion, this is a way of circumventing the voter's decision on Measure 50 to limit the tax bases, and by changing the name of an organization, we just forget about that and we start all over with more than three times the current tax rate," Swauger said.
Lookingglass Fire Chief Gary Hermess says they are dealing with a lot of increased costs in the department, and that's why the board decided to go to the voters. "They don't cut us any slack, and we don't get any pay for it, Hermess said, "and we're not asking for any pay for it, but we have to keep our equipment up to date and in service. All of our protection equipment that we wear has to be up to date."
Commissioners approved the election, which will be held on May 15.
It will ask residents if they can form a new district, and also install a maximum tax rate limit of $1.55 per $1,000 of assessed value.
On a $100,000 home, the assessment would equal to $155 per year.