Mill Creek Fire Station 76. (Mill Creek Fire Department)

Mill Creek Fire Station 76. (Mill Creek Fire Department)

Mill Creek to vote on annexation into South County Fire

Voting “yes” on the April 26 ballot is the best deal, the city says, citing rising costs either way.

MILL CREEK — Mill Creek voters will decide next week whether a nearby agency will step in to provide fire services within the city when the city’s current emergency services contract with a different provider expires at the end of the year.

In the April 26 special election, the city is asking voters to consider annexing into South County Fire — or, as the ballots say, “South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Regional Fire Authority.”

City leaders say annexation is the lowest-cost option for residents to continue receiving the same quality and level of fire service. Renewing the current contract, with neighboring Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue, would require a substantial cost increase, according to Mill Creek officials.

“We had a good deal for many years, but that’s over when the contract expires,” Scott Harder, a communications coordinator for Mill Creek, said in a recent news release. “Whether annexation passes or fails, the reality is that property owners will pay more for these life-saving services.”

If voters approve the ballot measure, South County Fire will begin operating from the city’s fire station 24 hours a day with the same number of firefighters and vehicles there now, according to the news release. Residents would pay taxes directly to South County Fire, instead of paying them to the city, as is now the case.

South County Fire is funded by two property tax levies — one for emergency medical services and one for fire services — plus a “fire benefit charge,” a fee based on the size and use of a structure, calculated to consider the resources that would be needed to fight a fire there. In 2022, all those costs would have amounted to about $880 for a 2,000-square-foot home valued at $602,000, the average in Mill Creek, according to a fact sheet from the city about the ballot question.

If annexation passes, the city would also stop collecting $4.3 million in taxes for the current fire contract by reducing its general property tax levy and removing its EMS levy, the fact sheet says.

“The net result is that the average homeowner would pay an additional $379.26 a year ($31.61 a month) for emergency services if annexation were in place in 2022,” the fact sheet says.

If voters do not approve the annexation, city officials have warned, Mill Creek will have to cut fire services “significantly” or find new revenue. The city might ask voters to increase its property tax levies. The City Council could also pass a new utility tax to pay for increased costs.

South County Fire is the largest provider of fire and emergency medical services in Snohomish County, according to the agency’s website. The fire authority’s service area spans a 50-square-mile area that includes Lynnwood, Edmonds, Brier and Mountlake Terrace. Its firefighters already respond to some calls for service in Mill Creek under a mutual aid agreement.

Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue, Mill Creek’s current contract agency, primarily serves residents in Monroe, Lake Stevens and parts of unincorporated southeast Snohomish County.

“SRFR’s contract with Mill Creek will expire at the end of the year. The contract was not renewed because our agency felt strongly that our residents do not subsidize fire and EMS service for Mill Creek,” Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin O’Brien wrote in a letter to the editor. “Loss of the Mill Creek contract will not impact the quality or level of emergency services district residents receive. SRFR is financially sound and can weather the revenue loss.”

Voter info

Ballots for the special election next Tuesday were mailed on April 7.

If voters choose to return their ballots via mail, they must be postmarked on or before April 26.

Voters can also deposit their ballots in one of the county’s 24-hour drop boxes, which will be open until 8 p.m. that night. Drop box locations include McCollum Park, at 600 128th St. SE in Everett, and the intersection of 159th Place SE and Mill Creek Boulevard, near the Mill Creek post office.

For more information about the Mill Creek ballot measure, visit is

Residents can also contact city communication coordinator Scott Harder with questions at 425-582-6015, or by e-mailing

Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist identified in fatal crash near Lake Stevens

Anthony Palko, 33, died Monday night after colliding with a passenger car. The juveniles in the car were taken to the hospital.

Police: Marysville man shot sword-wielding roommate in self-defense

The roommates were arguing over eBay sales, according to police. Then one of them allegedly brandished a two-foot sword.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Everett boy, 12, identified as Davies Beach drowning victim

Malachi Bell was one of three swimmers in distress Sunday in Lake Stevens. He did not survive.

Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Mike Kersey with Aiya Moore, daughter of Christina Anderson, right, talk about the condition of Nick’s Place in Everett, Washington on June 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘We’re all good people when we get clean and sober’

Who has fentanyl taken from us? A messenger who saved lives. A “street mom.” A grandpa who loved his grandkids “999 trillion times.”

Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on February 8, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bailiff’s comments leads to appeal of child rape conviction

Joseph Hall, of Snohomish, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison. Now he faces another trial.

Jeffrey Vaughan
In unexpected move, Vaughan resigns from Marysville council

He got re-elected in November. But he and his wife moved to Texas when she received a job promotion.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How to answer Snohomish County’s basic crime questions? ‘Transparent data’

An initiative funded in part by Microsoft could reveal racial disparities, while creating an “apples to apples” database.

Chris Rutland and son Julian buy fireworks from the Big House of Boom stall at Boom City on Thursday, June 30, 2022 in Tulalip, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Tulalip’s Boom City, fireworks are a family tradition

Generations have grown up at the Fourth of July institution. “Some people make good money, some are just out here for the pastime.”

Most Read