By Oscar Halpert Herald Writer
CLEARVIEW — Residents served by Snohomish County Fire District 7 will be asked next month to double the tax they pay for emergency medical services.
Officials will ask voters on the Aug. 17 primary mail-in ballot to approve an increase to 50 cents per $1,000. If voters agree, the new tax would be permanent, rather than lasting for six years as it does now.
District property owners pay 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for the service.
The fire district serves about 60,000 people living in mostly rural southeast portions of the county. It also is under contract to provide fire and medical services to Mill Creek.
Currently, the owner of a $360,000 house pays $90 a year. If voters agree to the increase, that owner would pay $180 a year for the EMS tax.
Fire Chief Rick Eastman said the district hasn’t increased its EMS tax rate since 1981. Increased costs have forced the district’s hand, he said.
“We can’t run a paramedic program for 25 cents on the $1,000 now,” he said.
Eastman said insurance, maintenance, labor and supply expenses are too high to continue with the existing tax rate.
“We’ve managed trying to give taxpayers a break,” he said. “Even at 50 cents, they’re still getting a break because even that doesn’t cover all the costs.”
Last year, the Fire District responded to more than 5,000 calls. More than 77 percent of them were medical-related.
Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fire District 7 has scheduled two 6 p.m. meetings in Snohomish about its proposal to increase the emergency medical services tax levy.
The first meeting is Thursday at Fire Station 77, 6610 Snohomish-Cascade Drive.
The second meeting is July 29 at Fire Station 71, 8010 180th St. SE.