3 fire departments seek levies to support emergency services

District 25 in Oso is hoping to pass its first fire levy in 22 years.

EVERETT — Three Snohomish County fire departments are seeking levies to support emergency services.

District 8 in Lake Stevens and District 17 in Granite Falls are asking voters to approve emergency medical services levy lid lifts. District 25 in Oso is hoping to pass its first fire levy in 22 years.

The measures will appear on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

In Lake Stevens, the EMS levy would increase to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. A similar levy was passed in 2000, but the rate has been reduced to 32 cents.

The owner of a $300,000 home would pay $54 more a year, Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said. The levy with the 18-cent lift would bring in an estimated $1.2 million.

O’Brien said emergency calls have more than doubled since 2000. Many of those were medical-related.

In Granite Falls, the EMS levy would draw 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. That is more than a 7 cent increase from what property owners are paying now. The new levy would cost the owner of a $300,000 house about $23 more a year.

The levy would bring in about $92,000 in 2018, Fire Chief Jim Haverfield said. Those funds would be used to maintain ambulances, train employees, purchase medical supplies and hire a new firefighter.

In the past five years, the district has fielded 32 percent more calls.

“That’s one reason why we need an additional employee,” Haverfield said.

The Oso district is seeking a fire levy that would draw $1 per $1,000 assessed value. The rate was initially approved in 1995. It since has decreased to 78 cents.

“One employee through most cities would cost the city over $100,000. With that money, we keep the lights on,” Fire Chief Willy Harper said.

The district staffed with 18 volunteer firefighters typically is left with about $10,000 a year for capital purchases. That money is used to maintain equipment and gear.

Harper said their only fire engine is 25 years old. A new one would cost around $450,000.

“We would have to save up for 45 years,” Harper said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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