By Heather Chadwick, Snohomish County Fire District 7 Public Information and Education Officer.
The Board of Fire Commissioners for Snohomish County Fire District 7 have passed a resolution asking voters to restore funding for its fire levy during the August 2017 Primary Election.
The ballot measure would restore the current $1.36 (FD7) / $1.45 (former FD3) per $1000 of assessed property value back to the $1.50 level. The $0.14(FD7), $0.05 (former FD3) cent levy restoration, based on a $400,000 home, would cost an additional $20 per year for property owners in former Monroe Fire District 3, and $56 for that same home in former Fire District 7 area. All property owners in Fire District 7 will pay the same combined rate of $1.95/$1,000 for fire and EMS in 2018.
Editor’s note: The City of Mill Creek has a separate fire contract with Fire District 7 that is currently under renegotiation.
In 2016 emergency personnel responded to over 10,790 emergency calls, 20 percent of which were fire related. Fire Chief Gary Meek says that the district has worked hard to manage costs and improve efficiencies for taxpayers. However, the demand for emergency services often outpaces the revenue received to provide it.
State law limits a fire district’s annual tax increase to one percent per year, causing the voter-approved levy rate for fire and EMS to decline over time. That’s why fire agencies across the state regularly ask voters to restore funding through lid lifts.
“We want our community to understand how emergency services are funded,” said Chief Meek. “Lid lifts are one tool we have to keep up with rising costs to provide service and allow us to not have large spikes in taxes for several years.”
Levy funds are used for emergency personnel, training and certifications, fire station construction, facility maintenance, fire & EMS supplies, apparatus and equipment replacement.
It is through strategic financial planning and voter support that the fire district has been able to fund capital purchases such as fire station construction and fire apparatus purchases without asking voters for excess levies and/or bond issues since 1978.