August 1, 2023 - Fire Levy Lid Lift information
Snohomish County Fire District 4 provides fire and life safety services to 32,000 people over 60 square miles. Our fire district responds to an average 4,600 calls a year, 65.4% of which are for emergency medical service (EMS).
Emergency services are funded by two property tax levies: a fire levy capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value and an EMS levy capped at $0.50 per $1,000. The fire levy accounts for 60% of all funding. It helps fund our EMS program and pays cash for capital projects instead of borrowing money, which costs taxpayers more in interest payments.
Over time, levy rates fall as property values rise to limit a fire district to the same amount of revenue per year plus a 1% increase allowed by law (or another voter-approved amount). For example, voters approved a fire levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2017. Since that time, the fire levy has fallen to $1.15 per $1,000.
In the same time period, emergency call volumes have increased 34%. Overlapping calls happen approximately 28% of the time. More calls mean added costs and those expenses are higher due to inflation. In addition, fire stations require improvements for community safety and the health and safety of our firefighters.
Snohomish 4 is asking voters to return the fire levy to $1.50 per $1,000 in the August 2023 Primary Election (an additional $14.58 per month for the owner of a $500,000 home). This fire levy lid lift would:
Hire eight firefighters over the next few years to provide both a fire engine and medic unit in service at the same time. (Currently, we can staff just one or the other.)
Build a fire station on Pine Avenue and replace one other as funding allows. These capital projects will improve response times and provide decontamination facilities to improve firefighter health and safety.
If the lid lift is approved, we can accomplish these projects without voter-approved debt. These projects also will improve our risk rating which is connected to what you pay in homeowner insurance premiums.
Fire Chief Don Waller is available to answer questions anytime at (360) 568-2141 or DonW@snohomishfire.org. Thank you for considering our request.