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EMS LEVY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What’s on my election ballot?

South County Fire is asking voters to authorize a levy for Emergency Medical Service of 50 cents per $1,000 during the August 7 Primary Election.

What is South County Fire?

In August 2017, voters in the City of Lynnwood and Snohomish County Fire District 1 formed a regional fire authority to improve service for area residents. As part of that vote, the two agencies became South County Fire funded by a fire levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The next part of the plan voters approved calls for replacing two existing EMS levies, and then dissolving Fire District 1.

So I already pay an EMS levy?

Yes, property owners that live in the City of Lynnwood or Fire District 1 pay an EMS levy to those jurisdictions. The election would replace those two levies with one EMS levy paid directly to South County Fire. Our partner cities of Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace contract with the fire authority for emergency services and their EMS contribution is part of those contract payments supported by their city taxes.

Who will vote on the EMS levy?

The EMS levy will appear on the Primary Election ballot for voters within the boundaries of the Regional Fire Authority, which is the City of Lynnwood and unincorporated communities for Snohomish County Fire District 1. The levy will not be on the ballot in the cities of Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. 

Have voters in the fire authority approved a 50-cent EMS levy in the past?

Voters in both the city and fire district have approved a 50 cent EMS levy in the past. Over time, levy rates decline as property values rise to limit an agency to collecting roughly the same amount of revenue per year, plus a 1 percent increase. This amount is not keeping up with the cost of inflation.

Why is the cost to provide service higher than inflation?

It’s based on demand for emergency services. Emergency call volumes have increased 34 percent in the past five years. EMS accounts for 85 percent of all emergency calls in the fire authority. Inflation is 3 to 4 percent per year, and that is more than the 1 percent increase that the fire authority is allowed.

What will funding be used for?

More calls mean added costs for personnel, apparatus, maintenance, medical supplies and equipment. To maintain service levels, funding from the EMS levy also will be used to purchase and staff another ambulance to respond during peak call times. Renewing an EMS levy of 50 cents will maintain emergency service levels and continue both basic and advanced life support – the highest standard of care – for Regional Fire Authority residents.

What will this cost?

The EMS levy rate for property owners in Lynnwood has declined from 50 to 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate for property owners in Fire District 1 is now 42 cents per $1,000. If voters restore the levy rate to 50 cents, the respective increase would be $45.50 per year ($3.79/month) in Lynnwood and $28 per year ($2.33/month) in unincorporated Snohomish County for the owner of a $350,000 home. 

Thank you for considering our request.