Residents in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood and the unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding those communities know a good deal when they see it.

That good deal is Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, the district that for years has provided very affordable and effective emergency medical and fire response services to almost all of eastern and central Washington County and West Linn and Wilsonville in Clackamas County.

The fire district's 300 or so paid firefighters and 100 volunteers do a very good job of often being the first emergency responder in cases such as heart attacks, car accidents, hazardous spills, and in the case of residential and commercial blazes and wildfires, the only line of defense. In 2005, the district responded to 31,000 emergency calls to provide care and safety.

On Nov. 7, voters should invest in preserving that level of safety, emergency preparedness and quality care of people in need by supporting Ballot Measure 34-133. The measure would pay for the replacement of almost two dozen aging fire trucks and other emergency response equipment; the construction of two new fire stations in high residential growth areas such as Tigard and North Bethany; modernization and safety improvements at many aging, existing fire stations; the construction of five new stations that would replace obsolete fire stations that were built decades ago and no longer support modern fire equipment; construction of a new command and training center and acquisition of land for two future fire stations.

If approved, taxpayers would pay for the $77.5 million bond measure over 20 years. The tax would cost property taxpayers initially about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and 11 cents per $1,000 assessed value for most of the bond term. The good news is that due to the large geographic size of the fire district, as well as the frugal and effective way the district is managed, the bond measure achieves a great deal at a small price.

We know taxpayers check their pocketbook before voting. In this case, the measure would cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 about $14 per year in the first two years of the measure and approximately $29 per year for the remaining 18 years of the bond. But we believe that investing in personal, community and building safety and effective fire service is not really a tax, but an investment in well-being.

That's why we encourage voters to vote 'yes' on Measure 34-133.

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