Letter to the editor: Why voters should consider a benefit charge for South County Fire

Dear Editor,

I wanted to thank our community for participating in the recent discussions asking voters to consider a benefit charge. The Board of Fire Commissioners for South County Fire approved a resolution to place a benefit charge measure on the November General Election ballot.

Under a benefit charge, the fire levy is reduced from $1.50 to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed property value and replaced with an annual charge based on a property’s size and use. For example, single family homes pay less than commercial buildings because it costs less to defend them in a fire. Seniors, disabled persons, and low-income households maintain any current exemptions they have through the county. There is also a discount for fire sprinkler systems.

If approved by voters, South County Fire would set the benefit charge at a rate that that will result in a net revenue decrease of $1.3 million for 2021. This is possible because of increased reimbursement we are receiving from the federal government to provide service for Medicaid patients. More information is available on our website, www.southsnofire.org/ElectionInfo.

We appreciate the consideration of our community for this proposal.

Thank you,

Jim Kenny, Chair
Board of Commissioners
South County Fire


  1. Didn’t we vote last year to combine two fire districts into one on the promise that doing so would reduce costs, only to be told afterwords, ‘Oops! It won’t reduce costs after all’? Correct me if I’m mis-remembering, or got it mixed up with another district or something, but that’s what I remember. If so, it’s hard to trust further promises of reducing costs.

    1. Hi, Joetta. I’m Thad Hovis, Fire Chief for South County Fire/EMS.

      In 2017, you voted to combine Lynnwood and Fire District 1 into one fire authority. I can’t speak to taxes you pay to the city, but forming the fire authority has saved $1.18 million in costs for emergency services. If a benefit charge is approved by voters, our Board of Fire Commissioners plans to set the rate at an amount that would result in a revenue decrease of $1.34 million. That means 95.65% of homeowners would pay the same or less to the fire authority in 2021 based on current tax roll data.

      A few neighboring fire districts did have a vote last year, so I am unsure if that is what you were referencing, but if you need additional information to clarify things, please give me a call at 425.551.1250.

  2. Do not be fooled, the fire department has a spending issue, not a revenue challenge. Please submit public records requests for pay and benefits. Firefighters are being paid 100,000 to 200,000 per year. This is crazy! First it is a benefit charge, next is “we need new and more stations”. It will never end!

    Please do not keep giving the commission more money. The more they charge, the more it costs us.

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