Approximately 450,000 people in portions of three counties depend on Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue to respond when life-and-death situations arise.

The fire and rescue agency has done an excellent job of providing just such a response for 25 years, and now voters in the district have the opportunity to ensure the same level of service continues into the future.

Voters within nine cities as well as residents of some unincorporated areas of Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties will see Measure 34-211 on the May 20 election ballot. This measure asks voters to continue — and increase — a local option levy that’s been in effect for 14 years.

Given the quickening pace of population growth and the changing demographics of the district, the funding this measure would provide is needed to maintain fast response times during emergency calls. TVF&R has a goal of responding to emergency scenes within five minutes and 12 seconds. To keep up with new development and an aging population, the district must maintain all the firefighter paramedics it has today and also have the ability to expand into areas where the population is growing denser.

Approval of this measure will retain 42 firefighter medics whose funding is tied to the current levy and add up to 44 more firefighter medics at three new proposed stations to handle an increasing number of emergency calls.

Measure 34-211 would cost property owners 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s 20 cents more than the current local option levy, which means the owner of a typical home — with an assessment of $230,000 — would pay $104 a year, about $4 more per month than he or she does today.

The local option levy is in addition to the district’s permanent tax rate of $1.52 per $1,000 of assessed value, but taxpayers are still getting a good deal for their money. TVF&R has demonstrated its efficiency, even as it makes sure it can provide effective response to fires and immediate life-saving care during medical incidents.

To stretch its dollars, the district makes use of both professional and volunteer firefighters. It responds to individual 9-1-1 calls with right-sized vehicles, the right number of crew members and appropriate apparatus.

Given the size of the territory, it’s important for the district’s top administrators to be aware of trends and use data to drive their decisions. They have proven their ability to do this, which should give residents of Beaverton, Durham, King City, Rivergrove, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin, West Linn, Wilsonville and unincorporated areas the confidence to approve Measure 34-211.

Voters should continue the first-rate service they get from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue by supporting Measure 34-211 in the May 20 election.

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