Community Government Police & Fire

Over 61 percent support Gig Harbor Fire levy

Posted on August 1st, 2023 By:

Gig Harbor-area voters renewed a levy that helps Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One fight fires, according to preliminary results of the Aug. 1 election posted by the Pierce County Elections Office.

Early tallies show 6,768 voters supporting the levy (61.86 percent) vs. 4,172 opposing it (38.14).

In the only other race on local ballots, Billy Sehmel and Steven M. Nielson appear set to advance to the general election in the contest for a seat on the Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District board. Sehmel has 3,909 votes (49.75 percent), while Nielson trails with 2,516 votes (32.02 percent). Madelyn Hunter (1,390 votes, 17.69 percent) is third in preliminary results.

Fire levy

GHFMO asked voters to renew its levy equal to 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For the owner of an average-priced Gig Harbor-area home (worth $865,000), the tax works out to about $276 per year, or $23 per month.

The approved levy allows the district to resume collecting the full $1.50 per $1,000 of property tax valuation for fighting fires and other emergency services.

State law limits growth of tax revenue collection to no more than 1% more than the previous year’s take — a lid on tax collection. GHFMO voters approved increasing that to 6% with a “lid lift” approval six years ago. 

However, property values grew faster than the 6% growth in revenue collection approved by voters. Therefore, the actual tax rate slipped to just $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed value. 

The six-year levy going before voters would boost the overall rate back to $1.50 — hence the 32 cents per $1,000. The 6% cap would continue, so the rate would continue to decline if property values continue to soar. 

Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One firefighters secure their gear after completing a drill at the Gig Harbor Marina on June 22, 2022.

PenMet commission seat

Billy Sehmel

Billy Sehmel

Sehmel and Nielson likely won enough votes to advance to the Nov. 7 general election contest for PenMet’s commissioner position No. 5. They seek to replace Amanda Babich, who did not seek reelection, and win a six-year term on the board.

PenMet operates parks outside Gig Harbor city limits between the Narrows and Purdy bridges. It owns nearly 600 acres of parks and other facilities and is building a Community Recreation Center sports complex at the former site of Performance Golf Center on 14th Avenue. 

Steven Nielson

Steven Nielson

Pierce County expects to release updated vote totals at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3.