Fire districts seek voter support
By KIRK BOXLEITNER
Arlington Times Reporter
August 28, 2008 · Updated 4:48 PM
SMOKEY POINT Area firefighting and emergency medical services agencies are seeking support from voters on the Aug. 19 primary ballot to fund their services.
Silvana Fire District 19 bond, levy
Snohomish County Fire Protection District 19 is running two propositions, the first to issue $1.5 million of general obligation bonds to expand and renovate Fire Station 94, and the second to restore its regular property tax levy to the maximum rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2009.
If Proposition 1 is passed, the bonds would cover the construction of additional living and working space for firefighters at Fire Station 94, as well as converting its existing day room and restroom into a public meeting room and community fire training area. The bonds would also pay the costs of acquiring firefighting and lifesaving equipment, installing a vehicle exhaust system, constructing an additional vehicle bay and other capital improvements.
The bonds would be repaid from annual property tax levies in excess of regular property tax levies over a period of 20 years. The district anticipates a tax rate increase of approximately $0.17 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $60 per year for a $350,000 home, for the life of the bonds, over the existing tax rate. Exemptions may be available for homeowners who are 61 years or older, disabled and meet certain income requirements.
If Proposition 2 is passed, the annual levy would be permitted to increase by the rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, but not in excess of the $1.50 rate, from 2010-2014. The 2014 levy would then be used to calculate subsequent levy limits.
Because of the statutory 1-percent limit on property tax increases, the district's current levy rate is $0.82 per $1,000 of assessed value. Passage of the proposition would authorize the district to exceed this 1-percent limit and restore its levy to the $1.50 rate, which voters had previously voted to restore in 2003. This would result in an estimated tax rate increase of $0.68 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $238 per year for a $350,000 home.
"The costs are rising for our district, but tax collection hasn't kept pace," Fire District 19 Chief Keith Strotz said. "We're just plain collecting less, while these services are costing more. The community expects more from their fire department, and we're putting on more volunteers. We're simply unable to keep up with inflation and the costs of doing business."
North County Fire Authority levy
The North County Regional Fire Authority Board of Commissioners is asking local residents to return the current emergency medical services levy rate to its previous rate of $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. The board is also asking that this funding source for the community become permanent, but that the tax rate level must always be approved by the local voters.
The current EMS levy helps fund services such as basic and advanced life support services, emergency medical equipment such as defibrillators and aid cars, and training for emergency personnel.
"We feel it is important that the citizens retain these vital service levels and are able to choose what they wish to fund for their community in the future," Fire Authority Chief Dale Fulfs said. Fulfs emphasized that the levy is not a new tax.
Marysville EMS levy
The Marysville City Council is likewise asking for a regular property tax levy for emergency medical services, that would authorize the district to set and maintain a regular property tax levy of $0.50 or less per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2009.
Marysville Fire District 12 levy
Snohomish County Fire District 12 is proposing a regular property tax levy for emergency medical services, that would authorize the district to set and maintain a regular property tax levy of $0.50 or less per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2009.Contact Arlington Times Reporter Kirk Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-659-1300 Ext. 5052.