Fire District 7 is limited to a 1% increase in revenue per year. (Snohomish County Fire District 7)

Fire District 7 is limited to a 1% increase in revenue per year. (Snohomish County Fire District 7)

Four fire districts have propositions on November ballot

They are asking voters to approve property tax proposals, their main source of revenue.

Four fire districts across Snohomish County are asking voters for changes to their levies, the main source of revenue for area fire and emergency service providers. The election is Nov. 5.

District 7

In Snohomish County’s Fire District 7, officials are seeking a levy lift to reach the state-allowed tax of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The district’s current levy rate is $1.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The levy lift request will appear as Proposition 1 on the ballot.

District 7 provides fire and life safety services to 110,000 people over 98.5 square miles in central and east Snohomish County, including the communities of Monroe, Maltby, Clearview and Mill Creek.

The district is limited to a 1% increase in revenue per year. So as property values increase at a rate that has been around 10%, the levy decreases. That means the district has to regularly ask voters to bump the amount back up to the original $1.50 rate.

The levy covers the district’s daily operations as well as capital needs like infrastructure and new fire trucks, according to public information officer Heather Chadwick.

In a statement prepared for the voter’s pamphlet, district resident Ryan Meyer questioned the need for the levy based on the district’s projected revenue increase in the district’s annual budget report.

“Why are taxpayers being asked to contribute more when FD7 is operating soundly within what is considered healthy under any metric applied?” he asked.

But Chief of Operations Eric Andrews said the district won’t operate in a surplus.

“The district evaluates that and we often will say we don’t need to pass a levy,” he said.

District 21

Prop. 1 for Fire District 21 would approve the regular property tax levy for emergency medical services of $.50 per $1,000 assessed property value. The levy would be collected in 2020 and could increase by up to 3% (but not to exceed the $0.50 rate) for the following five years.

Laura Hofmann and Stacey Lindsay wrote a statement in favor of the proposition for the voter’s pamphlet.

“This levy is not a new tax!” it reads. “The proposed E.M.S. levy renews the existing rate of $0.50 per $1,000.00 of assessed property value for 2019.”

No volunteers came forward to write a statement against the proposition.

Fire District 21, also known as Arlington Rural, covers 70 square miles of the Stillaguamish Valley surrounding the city of Arlington.

District 23

Prop. 1 for Fire District 23 would replace the final three years of the current emergency medical services property tax levy with a permanent levy of $.50 per $1,000 assessed property value.

The current 10-year levy, passed at $.50 per $1,000 in 2012, is at $.39 per $1,000.

Fire District 23 serves the Robe Valley east of Granite Falls.

Approval of the levy will allow the district to maintain and improve the level of emergency medical services currently provided, according to the district’s statement in the voter’s pamphlet.

The revenue from this levy will be used exclusively for emergency medical services.

If the levy is approved, the EMS levy on a home valued at $300,000 would not exceed $150 each year or approximately $12.50 per month.

North County Regional Fire Authority

Proposition 1 for the North County Regional Fire Authority would reset the fire and emergency services levy back to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Voters originally approved the $1.50 rate in 2008, but it has dropped to $1.36 per $1,000.

A supporting argument on the voter’s pamphlet states that the Fire Authority’s call volume has increased 37% since 2013, which translates to increased operation costs.

There is also a need for additional personnel.

If approved, the levy would be collected in 2020. It could increase by up to 6% for each of the five following years, but it wouldn’t exceed the $1.50 rate.

No volunteers came forward to write a statement against the proposition.

The district provides fire suppression and emergency medical service to 25,000 people over 110 square miles, including the City of Stanwood.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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