Voters overwhelmingly approve fire department annexation

Nearly 90% of city voters backed measure merging city into the North County Regional Fire Authority

ARLINGTON — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure to annex the city’s fire department into the North County Regional Fire Authority.

Proposition 1 passed with 89.7% in Tuesday’s special election. In raw numbers, 2,502 people backed the proposition and 289 opposed it, according to results posted by the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office.

Turnout stood at 22.3% of the city’s registered voters. Results of the next ballot count will be posted Wednesday afternoon.

City leaders viewed joining the regional authority as a way to reduce pressure on the budget without sacrificing emergency services for residents. The annexation, under the measure, will take effect in August.

Once it occurs, property owners will pay a fire and emergency medical service levy to the North County Regional Fire Authority. At the same time, the city would reduce its general property tax levy and repeal its EMS levy and ambulance utility fee.

An analysis by the city forecast more than half of Arlington property owners would pay the same or less for emergency services with annexation, while 28% would pay about $60 more per year and 18% would likely pay more than that, according to the city.

No jobs will be lost, no fire stations will change and firefighters will continue to be involved with the community, city officials have said.

Chief John Cermak will continue to lead the North County Regional Fire Authority with Dave Kraski, Arlington’s fire chief, becoming assistant chief.

Annexation would only affect the Arlington Fire Department, and not Fire District 21, which serves rural Arlington.

Passage of the measure means Mukilteo and Everett will be the only cities in Snohomish County with their own fire departments.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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