Fire District 15 wants a boost in EMS funds

TULALIP — Snohomish County Fire District 15 in Tulalip Bay is asking voters to approve a higher permanent emergency medical services levy on the November ballot.

The fire district wants to increase staffing and begin transporting its own patients to local hospitals, Fire Chief Teri Dodge said Wednesday.

Currently, the district mostly relies on private ambulance companies. Using their own staff and equipment would be faster and cost less than private ambulances, the chief said.

“We want to transport our own community,” she said.

The fire district, with boundaries within the Tulalip Indian Reservation, now draws 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for emergency medical services. That’s the lowest EMS levy in the county, according to the district.

The proposed levy would draw 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That means the owner of a $200,000 house would pay up to $100 a year.

In addition, the district would increase the number of firefighters on shift around-the-clock to four, from three, Dodge said.

The district has a full-time chief and 31 volunteers who are paid a stipend for each 12-hour shift. The crews get more than 700 emergency calls a year, and about 90 percent of those are for medical issues, the chief said.

If approved by voters, the levy would raise an estimated $80,000 a year.

The Tulalip Tribes also recently “generously agreed to match the taxpayer funding into the future” at $80,000 a year to the district, Dodge said. The district used the money this year to bring on 11 volunteer firefighters, and pay for their uniforms and gear.

The Tulalip fire district, which is a county taxing district independent of the tribes, serves 4,764 people living over 22.5 square miles. The district’s 2014 budget is $813,000.

“We really care about our community and we want to provide the best service we can,” Dodge said.

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