Firetruck and ambulance on Rucker Ave. in Everett. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Firetruck and ambulance on Rucker Ave. in Everett. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Tax hike would fund increased emergency calls, higher costs

Everett officials say the demand for services has outstripped available funding.

EVERETT — As calls to 911 increase, city leaders in Everett are asking taxpayers to pay more to support emergency medical services.

They want voters to approve Proposition 3, which is forecast to raise $9.2 million next year.

The measure would raise the EMS levy rate from 40 cents to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. An owner of a $300,000 home would pay $150 a year — $30 more than now.

In the past eight years, according to city data, call volumes to the Everett Fire Department have increased 36 percent. Of those, 87 percent were medically related. In 2017, the department responded to nearly 24,000 calls.

“Revenues aren’t keeping up with the expenditures,” said Randy Utt, a retired Everett firefighter and paramedic. “What we are asking voters to do is restore what was already approved (in past years).”

Labor and fuel costs are increasing, he said.

In 2010, Everett voters approved an EMS levy rate of 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value. However, under state law that has dropped to 40 cents per $1,000.

Due to the decrease, other city resources have been used to fill the gap.

“Over the last five years, the general fund has provided a subsidy to the EMS fund of an average of $850,000 per year,” wrote Meghan Pembroke, city spokeswoman, in an email.

If Proposition 3 does not pass, Pembroke said, the city would need to continue contributing money from the general fund.

This could further squeeze the city’s already tight budget.

Paul Giesick, a critic of the increase and a libertarian, says the higher levy rate will hurt low-income families, small business owners and first-time home buyers.

“Taxes don’t need to go up because our local government can’t control its funding,” Giesick said.

Last year, the EMS levy brought in $6.7 million. Approval from more than half of voters is needed to increase the tax, also known as a levy lid lift.

The election is Tuesday.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @lizzgior.

Talk to us

More in Local News

COVID-19 and supporting essential workers

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Monroe woman missing since Tuesday, says sheriff’s office

Kenna Harris, 25, was last seen leaving her family’s home and was reportedly on her way to Walmart.

Tyler Chism was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is currently cleared, by CDC standards, but chooses to remain indoors at home on March 20 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Gallery: Life in Snohomish County as coronavirus takes hold

A collection of images by our staff photographers from our COVID-19 coverage over the past month.

Victims of 2 Snohomish County homicides are identified

In unrelated cases, a man died of a gunshot in Lynnwood, and an Everett landlord died of blunt-force trauma.

Watch Gov. Jay Inslee’s Wednesday news conference here

He is expected to discuss the need for manufacturers to provide personal protective equipment.

Final farewells continue, but few are allowed to say goodbye

Rules for funerals limit attendees to immediate family. In Darrington, a memorial tradition is on hold.

Closed Edmonds car lot dodged hundreds of thousands in taxes

For years, Kero’s Auto Brokers greatly underreported its sales, and how much it owed the state.

Inslee signs transportation budget, with car tabs in mind

The state will account for vehicle registration fees it collects, in case they have to be given back.

Jobless claims soar in county, state amid COVID-19

Across the nation, number of filings for unemployment benefits surged to 6.6 million

Most Read