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March 18 is deadline to register for special election

ARLINGTON — The deadline to register in the upcoming special election is right around the corner.

Voters must register no later than March 18 with the Snohomish County Elections and Voting Division to receive their ballots for the special election by mail on April 8. Those ballots must be returned by mail no later than April 26.

For Arlington voters, this year's special election will impact the emergency medical services provided by the Arlington Fire Department not only to the city of Arlington itself, but also to the Arlington Heights, Oso, Silvana and Darrington fire districts.

The current EMS levy is set to expire on Dec. 31, and the proposed permanent EMS levy on the special election ballot would constitute a continuation of the current tax assessment rate, rather than a new tax assessment.

"Currently, we have to vote to renew the EMS levy every six years," said Barbara Tolbert, who served as campaign manager for the EMS levy on the Nov. 2 ballot last year. "If this levy were to be passed, it wouldn't add a new tax of $125 for a $250,000 home. Instead, it would maintain a rate of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation each year."

Tolbert noted that these levies, along with transportation fees, are the only sources of funding for EMS services, including ambulances and paramedics, in the area.

"The impacts of this funding are felt all across the valley," Tolbert said. "EMS calls are increasing every year and EMS personnel are being very efficient with these funds in the face of a growing need."

An estimated 80 percent of the Arlington Fire Department's more than 3,000 calls in 2009 were medically related. Tolbert sees the proposed permanent levy a cost-saving measure, since monies that would otherwise be spent on levy elections could be channeled instead into EMS training and equipment.

To register to vote online, you may log onto http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/voterinformation/Pages/RegistertoVote.aspx. Call Snohomish County Elections at 425-388-3444 for more information.

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