Fire Levy Lift Information
Fire Levy Lid Lift Information
Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue is asking voters to approve a fire levy lid lift during the November 2nd General Election. The reason for this request is that call volumes and inflationary costs are outpacing the property tax revenue we have to maintain emergency service levels.
For example, call volumes for 2021 are 10.2% higher than the same time period last year. At the same time, inflation is 6.3% for our area. More calls mean added costs, and those costs are higher than normal because of inflation. A lid lift helps get us back where we need to be to maintain the quality and level of emergency services that our community requires.
The fire levy is a majority of our funding, and capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The last time voters returned the fire levy to $1.50/$1,000 was in 2017 and it has fallen to $1.27/$1,000. Levy rates fall as property values rise to limit a fire district to the same amount of levy revenue per year. We can only increase levy revenue by 1% per year, and that amount is not keeping up with inflation and costs.
- What’s on my ballot?
Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue is asking voters to approve a one-year fire levy lid lift of $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This would return the fire levy from $1.27 to $1.50 per $1,000.
- Why is my fire district asking for this?
Call volumes have increased 10.2% compared to the same time last year. Inflation is 6.3% for our area making costs higher to respond to emergency calls and maintain operations. Levy revenue is not keeping up with the demand for and costs to provide emergency services.
- When is the last time voters approved a fire levy lid lift?
Voters last returned the fire levy to $1.50 per $1,000 in 2017.
- How have you tried to cut costs?
SRFR has cut $1.5 million in programs and services, including its Community Resource Paramedic program, firefighter training, some apparatus replacement, and fire prevention and life safety programs. These cuts are impacting the quality of emergency services we can provide.
- Doesn’t new growth provide the fire district with more fire levy revenue?
No. What happens is that the total amount of levy revenue we receive is shared by more homes, which lowers the fire levy rate for all property owners. We do receive a one-time payment for new construction, but that funding source cannot be counted on year-to-year.
- What will the money be used for?
Funding from the lid lift will be used to maintain staffing levels; improve firefighter training, fire prevention and life safety programs; replace aging fire engines and ambulances; and, fund fire station projects throughout the district.
- How long will it last? How much will it cost?
The lid lift will last for one year before the fire levy starts to drop again. It will cost the owner of a $500,000 property (considered an average for our area) $9.58 per month ($115 per year).
- What happens if the lid lift does not pass?
SRFR is legally required to operate under a balanced budget. If the lid lift fails, SRFR would borrow money to fund apparatus and station projects, which costs taxpayers more due to interest payments. SRFR would continue to reduce public outreach, fire prevention, maintenance, training, and specialized rescue programs. Finally, staffing levels would be reduced, resulting in service level cuts and longer response times.
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