Renewal of Fire & Emergency Services Levy
Explain to me why and how the amount of money the Fire District collects each year goes down each year.
As home values increase by anywhere from 6-15% or more each year, our Fire District budget only has the ability to grow by 1% each year per Washington State Law, which makes us fall behind the taxing value of a home each year. So, in 2019 we collected $1.30 per each thousand dollars on your home, and in 2022 we could only collect $1.09 per each thousand dollars, because, although your home’s value may have increased 6%, we could only collect 1%. This forces us to renew these levies every 3-4 years to be able to keep up with inflation and other rising costs.
With all the new construction in our Fire District, it seems to me the amount of Fire District tax money collected should go up, which should more than adequately fund the Fire District without raising the Levy amounts back to $1.30/thousand. Isn't this a correct assumption?
Even as Arlington grows, the new construction only adds a very small amount to the Fire District budget. A $600,000 home will bring $654 in 2022 and in 2023 it will bring less than $600. So, while a lot of new building is happening, the Fire District generally will only collect around $14,000 in new construction in 2022.
My house and property has experienced an increase in assessed valuation. That is going to net the Fire District a huge amount of new tax money. Isn't that enough to warrant no need for a Levy Tax increase?
The Fire District by Washington State law can only collect 1% more than it collected the year prior so there is no ability to keep up with current values/costs without a Levy renewal.
We used to have an all-Volunteer Fire Department. Do we still have any Volunteers? If so, how many, and why don't we have more, like before?
We do currently have 8 volunteers. The standards set by the Federal Government and the State of Washington make it difficult and very time consuming to be a Volunteer these days. The hourly demands, as well as the certifications required, make it difficult for people to keep up with it. This is a trend Nationwide and not just with the Fire Service. This trend is the major reason that full time staffing is needed to respond to emergencies 24/7.
What will the increased Levy money do for the Fire District?
If this levy renewal passes, we will be able to add back the 3 rd firefighter position for each day at the Arlington Heights Station (Station 49) and sustain that staffing through 2027. It also allows us to continue service at our new McElroy location (Station 50) and add a 3rd position to safely staff the entire District. Having 3 firefighter/EMT’s increases our ability to perform firefighting duties by 25% on a fire and increases our ability to perform a rescue on a fire by 30%. It also increases our effectiveness on EMS calls, including CPR calls.