FIRE LEVY LID LIFT NOVEMBER 2023
How we fund emergency services
The fire department funds daily operations through a fire levy capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. We also have a levy for emergency medical service (EMS) capped at $0.50 per $1,000. Both are paid through property taxes.
In 2019, voters approved a fire levy rate of $1.50. Since then, the rate has dropped to $0.98.
Why did the rate drop?
Over time, levy rates drop as property values rise to limit us to the same amount of revenue per year plus a 1 percent increase allowed by state law. Even if property values double, we can only collect 1 percent more in revenue.
This is called “levy compression” and impacts our ability to provide emergency services.
What is a fire levy lid lift?
Occasionally, we must ask voters to reset our fire levy, which is known as a levy lid lift. This helps us keep up with higher call volumes and costs to provide services. Our community has grown significantly, and in 2022 we responded to a record high of 2,800 calls – of which 68 percent were for medical emergencies (EMS). Since 2020, our call volumes have increased 40 percent – 23 percent in the last year alone.
We are also seeing more and more overlapping calls – that’s when two or more emergencies come in at the same time.
Levy lid lift will help reduce response times and improve service
Our emergency response system relies on full-time, part-time, and volunteer personnel to respond to calls. However, due to the lack of part-time and volunteer personnel, our full-time firefighters are working extra hours, resulting in additional costs for taxpayers.
We require additional personnel and adequate facilities to meet the emergency service needs of our community.
The lid lift would fund:
Up to seven firefighters over three years to reduce overtime costs and improve response times
Construction of a new headquarters fire station
Replace a fire engine and ambulance over the next six years
We have plans to build a new fire station to replace an existing one that was built in the early 1900s and poses a risk in the event of an earthquake. The existing station has insufficient space and cannot house modern equipment in its engine bays. Additionally, it lacks adequate facilities for decontamination, such as washing off carcinogens and medical waste after calls.
What will this cost?
In 2019, voters approved a fire levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000. This time, we are asking voters for $1.28 per $1,000. The $0.30 lid lift would change the fire levy rate from $0.98 to $1.28 and cost an additional $10 per month or $120 per year for the owner of a $400,000 home (considered average).
The measure is being considered for the November 7, 2023, general election ballot.
Chief Jim Haverfield welcomes the opportunity to provide a 15-to-30-minute presentation to local groups about emergency services that the fire district provides and the lid lift being considered, as well as answer any questions. If you’d like to arrange for a presentation, please contact the Chief Haverfield at 360-691-5553 or email@example.com.
MEDIA RELEASES AND NEWS
Granite Falls fire levy needed to add needed responders - The Daily Herald - September 12, 2023
Letter to the Editor from Captain Ted Bergstrom - September 9, 2023
Board of Fire Commissioners passes fire levy lid lift resolution - July 11, 2023
Snohomish County Fire District 17 facing service challenges - June 15, 2023
PRO/CON VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT: The Board of Commissioners for Granite Falls Fire Department approved a resolution to place a levy lid lift on the November 7, 2023, general election ballot. The district is accepting names of people interested in participating on a pro or con committee to provide a voter pamphlet statement . Residents interested in participating, please contact Fire Chief Jim Haverfield at Jim.Haverfield@gffd17.org by 2pm on July 26, 2023.