Fire levies crowd the Aug 2. ballot in county

EVERETT — Four Snohomish County fire departments and one city have levies for emergency services on the ballot for the Aug. 2 primary election.

They include Fire District 7 in Clearview, District 17 in Granite Falls, District 26 in Gold Bar and District 28 in Index, along with the city of Mill Creek.

In District 7, an emergency medical services levy would draw 50 cents for $1,000 of assessed value. That’s an increase from the current rate of 44 cents. Under the proposed change, the owner of a $300,000 house would pay an estimated $150 a year under the new rate.

The levy would bring in an estimated $567,519 a year, district spokeswoman Heather Chadwick said. The money would be used for ambulance maintenance, medical equipment and first-aid staffing, training and supplies, she said.

In Granite Falls, the fire district is asking for a levy that would collect $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. The revenue funds fire protection and EMS, according to the ballot. That’s slightly higher than the current rate of $1.38 per $1,000. The owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $450 a year under the proposed levy, Fire Chief Jim Haverfield said. The revenue would help the fire district restore staffing levels to what they were before the recession and offset rising costs, Haverfield said.

A public meeting on the Granite Falls levy is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the fire station at 116 S.Granite Ave.

In Gold Bar, the proposed levy would collect 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for maintenance and operations. If approved, the levy would generate an estimated $125,000 a year for four years. Those revenues are used for salaries and equipment and to maintain service levels, according to the ballot.

The levy has been lowered from the existing $150,000 a year due to the improving economy and property values, Fire Chief Eric Andrews said.

In Index, the proposed levy would collect 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for medical services. The proposal would renew the existing levy. “It’s not a new tax,” Fire Chief Ernie Walters said.

The situation is a little different for the city of Mill Creek. The city contracts with District 7 for fire protection and EMS. Mill Creek pays its EMS levy revenues to the district for service under the existing contract. People in city limits are not taxed directly by District 7.

The city pays the fire district $3.87 million a year. The EMS levy at the proposed rate would account for less than half of that.

The current contract expires at the end of the year. Negotiations are ongoing for a new agreement, officials said.

The city is asking voters for a 5-cent rate increase, to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a $400,000 house would pay $200 a year.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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