PROSSER — West Benton Regional Fire Authority (WBRFA), the fire and co-first responder agency serving 176 square miles within and outside the Prosser town proper, plans to submit a “Levy Lift” to the voters of Prosser later this summer.
The levy announcement was made by WBRFA Chief Seth Johnson on Tuesday, June 25, during an information session at the Prosser Community Center, sponsored by the Prosser Senior Citizens’ Club.
The purpose of the levy renewal is two-fold. The levy renewal will provide enhanced services, replace equipment, maintain and upgrade facilities along with assisting the department in regaining its previous fire protection capability rating score of 5.
According to Johnson, the Levy Lift is a replacement levy and is the primary income for the busy, local fire and life safety department.
The levy’s current and expiring rate is .88 per $1,000 on assessed property value. The new rate would rise, initially, to $1.30 per $1,000 which translates to $7 a month on a $200,000 home, then caps at an estimated $1.42 per $1,000 in the fourth year.
The WBRFA serves 13,000 individuals over 176 sq. miles, using a staffing matrix of three paid and 26 volunteer staff.
Incidents needing responses have grown “… 36 percent over the last five years,” and will continue to rise, according to Johnson.
While the fire and life safety incident responses have increased, the department staffing has stayed the same, and equipment has gotten older.
This combination played a large role in the recent evaluation of Prosser’s fire protection capability (and insurance) rating: the department’s score of 5 was increased to a 6 on a 1-10 scale. “Lower is better,” said Johnson, who noted a lower score generally means lower homeowner’s insurance rates.
The ballot for the Levy Lift is scheduled for Aug. 6.
For more information about the Levy Lift or the free fire alarm and installation program, contact the WBRFA at www.WestBentonFireRescue.org.