(Update: Adding video, comments from department)
CROOKED RIVER RANCH, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In less than two months, voters in Crooked River Ranch will decide whether to pay more for firefighting resources. Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue has a new five-year levy on the Nov. 7 ballot.
"We're looking at an increase for our new levy to add some additional staffing that we need to cover the increase in call volume," Fire Chief Sean Hartley said Wednesday.
Hartley said that over the last 10 years, they've seen a 36% increase in calls.
"We're seeing a lot of overlapping calls, where the on-duty crew is already on a call," he said. "And then we're getting a second one, and we're having to rely on our volunteer core that lives here on the ranch."
About two-thirds of those calls are for medical emergencies. In some cases, staff are having to come in while off duty to cover calls, which can cause delays.
Fire board member Joe Costigan said, "Currently, how it's staffed is you have a captain paramedic that works 48 hours on and 96 hours off. There are two other captain paramedics that work that same schedule, so that every day is covered. In addition to that, there are two firefighter paramedics that have been brought on, based on the State Fire Marshal grant. There is one shift that doesn't have that second paramedic currently."
Money from the levy would allow the department to have another paramedic on duty 24 hours a day. As for what it would cost crooked river residents, it'd be $1.17 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value, a 28 cent increase over the current, expiring levy.
The total cost of the new levy for a property assessed at $200,000 would be $234 a year, or $19.50 per month. The increase of $4.66 per month is an increase of $56 per year over the expiring levy.
The department surveyed residents, asking for three reasons they need the fire department.
"No. 1 was for response to medical aid calls," Costigan said. "The second was to respond to fires. The third was traffic accidents and general assistance calls. The big resource right now that we need is the paramedics. That's the No. 1 priority that the citizens have asked for."
The Crooked River Ranch Fire Board sent the levy to the the November ballot in July. If approved by voters, it funds the district for five years, starting next July.