Applicants must live in the regional fire authority boundaries (the City of Lynnwood or unincorporated areas).
The benefit charge will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot for voters within the fire authority, which includes unincorporated south Snohomish County and the City of Lynnwood. The election would not apply to voters in Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. Residents of these cities receive emergency services from South County Fire under city contracts.
Currently, emergency services for regional fire authority residents are funded by two levies paid through property taxes. The emergency medical services (EMS) levy is capped at 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The fire levy is capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
With a benefit charge, the fire levy is reduced from $1.50 to $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value and an annual charge is established based on a property’s size and use. Smaller structures (such as single-family homes) are charged less than larger buildings (such as commercial developments) because it costs less to serve them in an emergency.
If the ballot measure is approved, South County Fire plans to set the benefit charge at a rate resulting in a $1.3 million revenue decrease for 2021. This is possible because of increased revenue the fire authority is receiving to provide service to Medicaid patients.
Voters in more than two dozen Washington communities have approved a benefit charge. The benefit charge will expire in six years unless renewed by voters. Seniors, disabled persons, and low-income households maintain any current exemptions they have through the county. There is also a discount for fire alarms and sprinkler systems.
Applications to serve on either the pro or con committee must be received by noon on July 16. Apply online at southsnofire.org/ProConApplication or submit a letter of interest by mail or email to Melissa Blankenship, Executive Assistant to the Board of Commissioners, South County Fire,12425 Meridian Avenue S., Everett WA 98208; MBlankenship@southsnofire.org. Letters should indicate whether the applicant wishes to serve on the pro or the con committee.
Learn more about the benefit charge proposal at www.southsnofire.org/ElectionInfo.