Voters said no to a 12 cent levy increase for the Mid County Fire Protection District as they handily defeated the proposition by nearly a two to one margin.
The increase failed by a margin of 310 ballots, with 646 ballots being cast against the issue and 336 votes in favor of the levy increase.
Voter turnout was light, with less than 11 percent of the fire districts registered voters casting a ballot. Of the 9191 registered voters, 982 voted.
The defeat of the tax levy increase sent a clear message to the district's board that voters are not willing to pay more for fire service.
The vote on Tuesday marks the fourth time since 2007 voters have said no to a levy increase for fire protection.
MCFPD officials say the costs of providing fire protection are on the rise, forcing the use of reserve funds to keep pace with the demands of the district.
Fire Chief Scott Frandsen said it is extremely disappointing that the public voted not to increase the district's operating levy.
"Now we begin the process of determining what needs to be cut," Frandsen said. The district has not said what will be cut but have indicated everything will be evaluated.
According to Mid County Fire Protection District board president Charles McElyea, the current operating levy has not been increased by the voters since the district was formed in 1986. Because of increased costs of operations, the district has had to utilize reserve funds last year and will have to use reserve funds again this year.
Over the last three years, the district has made cuts in its operating cost to the extent that future cuts would greatly affect the services that the district is providing and is required to be provided to the residents, according to Frandsen.
MID-COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Formed in 1986, the Mid-County Fire Protection District encompasses 220 square miles in central Camden County. The district has six fire stations and two fireboat docks respond to more than 1,100 calls annually, including structural and wildland fire suppression, vehicle and technical rescue, marine firefighting marine firefighting and rescue, dive/water recoveries, emergency medical services, code enforcement, fire prevention/public education, along with a host of other activities and services. The district operates 4 engines, 6 tankers, a rescue engine, 7 brush/EMS trucks, a 75' ladder truck, a fuel/utility truck, a dive/water rescue truck and 3 staff vehicles. The district has 40 volunteer firefighters, 6 paid firefighters, an administrative assistant, a fire marshal and a fire chief.