By Heather Chadwick, Snohomish County Fire District 7 Public Information and Education Officer.
The Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 7 are asking voters in unincorporated Snohomish County to restore funding for its Emergency Medical Service program during the August 2nd Primary Election. Medical emergencies accounted for 81% of all calls in 2015.
The ballot measure would restore the current 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value back to the 50-cent level, which was approved by voters in 2010.
The 6-cent lid lift would cost the average homeowner an additional $21 per year to maintain emergency service levels.
In 2015 emergency personnel responded to just under 6,000 emergency calls, 81 percent of which were EMS-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 budget increase to one percent per year, and the voter-approved levy rate for fire and EMS declines 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.”
Levy funds are used for emergency personnel, training and certifications, ambulances, maintenance, medical equipment, first aid supplies, and equipment replacement.
Snohomish County Fire District 7 provides fire and life safety services to 77,000 people over 55 square miles, including the City of Mill Creek.
The City of Mill Creek receives services from Fire District 7 under a contract that is due to expire at the end of 2016. A new contract is currently being negotiated.
In 2015 emergency personnel responded to just under 6,000 emergency calls, 81% of which were for Emergency Medical Service (EMS).
Fire District 7 has built the most advanced emergency response system in Snohomish County because of its highly-trained personnel, facilities, apparatus, and rescue programs.