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WEDNESDAY, April 30, 2014 VOL. 47, NO. 18 75¢ islandssounder.com
Sweeping levy win Orcas Fire is funded for another 10 years with levy approval by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG Publisher/Editor
Mandy Troxel photo
Molina Stone (l) and Lokahi Anuenue (r) selling lavender at a previous market.
First Farmers’ Market – see page 6
Voters have approved the renewal levy for Orcas Fire and Rescue. A total of 62 percent (1,332) voted yes on the levy while nearly 38 percent (813) came in with no. A total of 2,145 votes were tallied. “I really appreciate the support that the community has given OIFR that will allow us to accomplish our mission of saving people’s lives, property and the environment in a fiscally responsible manner,” Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said. OIFR is currently funded by a levy lid lift that was approved by voters in 1998 with a rate per thousand of $1.35. It expires at the end of 2014 and is the primary source of funding for OIFR (99 percent). In its final year, the levy will generate $2,042,599 with a rate of $1.0513 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The newly approved EMS/Fire levy is $1.05 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. This is slightly below the current millage rate and it will not raise taxes for property owners. The levy will run for 10 years beginning Jan. 1, 2015. The money will be used to maintain the current levels of service. It will allow the department to maintain or replace as needed its current vehicles and does not call for any expansion or new buildings. O’Brien created a 10-year financial pro-
jection that is available now on their website www.orcasfire.org. “We did this financial projection to be fully accountable to taxpayers and their money,” O’Brien told the Sounder in January. “We’re trying to be smart and strategic with our budgeting ... the way we are funded today makes sense for the future.” Since 1999, the cost of living has gone up 37 percent and the call volume for both fire and EMS calls has increased 119 percent due to population growth and an increasing 65 and older population. Twenty-six percent of the time, the department is responding to two calls at once. In addition, as mandated by law, the cost to outfit a firefighter in bunker gear is four times what it was in 1998. There are currently 64 volunteers; four career paramedics (one on duty 24 hours a day); one fire chief/EMT; one assistant chief and paramedic; one safety officer/ EMT responder; one administrative assistant; one volunteer coordinator; and a financial officer at 75 percent full-time. OIFR is responsible for seven fire stations and 22 pieces of rolling stock. O’Brien ran the numbers for a staff-only fire department and the added cost is $5.7 million more to the current budget per year. “The gift the volunteers give to the community is incredible,” he said.
Safeguarding local marine waters by STEVE WEHRLY Journal reporter
Prevention of derelict vessels is becoming the new paradigm in dealing with sinking, abandoned or illegally moored boats in Washington. Because identification and removal of derelict boats has been such a success in San Juan County, the Puget Sound Partnership in 2013 awarded the county more than $300,000 to develop and coordinate a derelict vessel prevention program in other Puget Sound counties. The county was chosen to administer the money because it
is the only county in the state, and perhaps the nation, to create a prevention program to identify vessels at risk before they become a hazard to navigation, a burden to taxpayers and a danger to the environment. “The key word here is ‘prevention’,” said Friday Harbor’s Marc Forlenza, coordinator of both the county and state programs. The counties that received funds to join the San Juan County-led prevention program are Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce and Snohomish. Four other counties have expressed interest in joining the program, and, according to Forlenza, Grays Harbor County
was represented at the first meeting and is expanding its prevention efforts as well. The Department of Natural Resources has had a derelict vessel removal program in place for about a decade, but DNR salvage costs are very high, especially when a vessel has already sunk, as was evident when it cost the state almost $1.3 million to refloat and dispose of the 140-foot crabbing boat Deep Sea, which caught fire and sank two years ago in Island County’s Penn Cove. Island County has opted not to participate in the Puget Sound prevention program.
Prevention workshop The new program was inaugurated at a two-day workshop at the Padilla Bay Reserve, where a dozen representatives of interested counties gathered to learn how to set up and manage a derelict prevention program of their own. The PSP-sponsored workshop was conducted by Forlenza, derelict vessel specialist Joanruth Bauman, PSP Stewardship Coordinator Debbie Ruggles and two social marketing professionals. “Prevention efforts are some-
SEE DERELICT, PAGE 6
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April 30, 2014 edition of the Islands' Sounder