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Phoenix asks for police, fire levy

PHOENIX ' Facing the potential loss of firefighters and police officers, the City Council decided Monday to ask voters for a public safety levy of &

36;2.85 per &

36;1,000 of assessed value.

The proposed levy, &

36;285 for a &

36;100,000 home, will come before voters on Nov. 5.

The council will ask for a five-year local option tax to provide additional funds for the city's police and fire departments.

The levy would supplement the city's permanent property tax rate of &

36;3.65 per thousand.

Phoenix has a current local option tax of &

36;1.72 per thousand, which expires June 2004, and a 62-cent per thousand bond, which expires in June 2003. If the proposed levy passes, the city would not collect for those two taxes, so in essence, the difference is a 48-cent increase from what property owners are paying now.

City Administrator Don Walker said that the numbers can look deceiving.

That 48-cent increase is really what we're asking for, said Walker. Two-eighty-five is the number, but 48 is the increase.

The Phoenix Police Department has seven full-time officers, a full-time clerk and a part-time lieutenant. The Phoenix Fire Department has five full- time firefighters. The levy would generate about &

36;3 million through June 2008.

If it doesn't pass, we lose two firefighters and two police officers right off the bat, said City Council member Otto Caster.

Mayor Larry Parducci said that without the fund, the city would consider letting go of its own fire department and paying to annex into a fire district.

A fire district fee would be a lot more expensive than this, he said, adding that Talent residents pay &

36;3.19 per thousand.

In other business, the city looked at bids for the construction on the South Phoenix Road extension.

Public Works Director Jim Wear recommended D. Britton Enterprises, Inc., of Grants Pass, which had the lowest bid at &

36;415,034.

We're fairly well-acquainted with this contractor, he said.

Wear told the council that this is the same contractor that worked on the Blue Heron Park infrastructure as well as other street projects in Phoenix.

The council accepted the bid, and work is scheduled to begin this month.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail .