Voters in Central Pierce Fire District 6 approved a $39.8 million facilities bond last week, overcoming what initial returns showed as a potential shortage for certification.
Central Pierce Fire Chief Keith Wright said last Friday that 40,636 ballots had been counted from the district, surpassing the 33,320 ballots required for certification. About 32,000 ballots had been validated by the end of the week, Wright said.
Getting the number of votes wasn’t a problem. A little more than 66 percent of voters said yes. But bond issues must meet two separate criteria to pass.
First, voter turnout must be at least 40 percent of the voters who cast a ballot in the last general election, according the Pierce County Auditor’s Office. Should the bond measure meet that criteria, it also must receive a 60 percent favorable majority.
“There are plenty of ballots to validate us,” Wright said. “Our approval has gone up a half percentage each day over the past two days. We’re feeling confident now that this will be certified.”
Wright said voters in Pierce County Fire District No. 6 got the message, and they supported it.
The facilities bond will help Central Pierce Fire & Rescue pay for the replacement of Station 61 in Parkland, Station 63 in Midland and Station 73 in downtown Puyallup. It also will help for other maintenance and repairs throughout the 87-square-mile district.
“I’m very happy and appreciative that they are supportive of Central Pierce,” Wright said. “They see the need and the long-term benefits for supporting our facilities. This will help our district and our response to the citizens.”
Ed Hrivnak, assistant chief of fire prevention and education, said the fire district has been operating with $5.4 million less this year than in 2010. At the same time, the district has served the same number of people and an increase in call volume.
“(Approval in the bond measure) will help in not affecting the operating budget,” Wright said. “We won’t need to spend that money for repairs.”
Later this year, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue will be rated by Standard and Poor’s, and the first $20 million of the bond will be sold.
“Starting in January, we will be drawing those funds, and we’ll be designing, buying property, getting permits and all the stuff you need to do to do construction,” Wright said.
The district will issue the remaining $19.8 million in 2016. Projects will be complete by 2019.
The interest on the bond will be paid over 20 years. For a $210,000 home, taxpayers will pay about $3 per month, or $36 a year, on average, throughout the life of the bond.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@ puyallupherald.com. Follow him Twitter, @herald_andrew.