FIRE LEVY LID LIFT
What we do
We provide fire and emergency medical service (EMS) to 6,800 people over 27 square miles, bordering Farm to Market Road to the west, Highway 20 to the south, District Line Road to the east, and Interstate 5 at Bow Hill Road to the north. We rely on part-time and volunteer emergency personnel who respond to an average 1,200 calls a year, of which 67 percent are for EMS.
We operate under a balanced budget and have passed all financial and accountability audits by the state.
How we are funded
Our daily operations are funded by a fire levy. In 2018, voters approved a fire levy rate of $1.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Since that time, the rate has dropped to $0.70 per $1,000.
Why did the levy rate drop?
Each year we are allowed to collect a set amount of revenue. State law limits us to that same amount each year plus one percent more. Even if property values double, we can only collect the same amount we did last year plus one percent. This means that the levy rate drops as property values rise to limit our budget to that one percent increase.
This is called “levy compression” and impacts our ability to provide emergency services as call volumes increase.
What is a fire levy lid lift?
From time to time, we must ask voters to restore our fire levy. This is known as a levy lid lift, and it helps us keep up with higher call volumes and costs to provide service.
Voters approved a fire levy rate of $1.05 in 2018. Since then, the rate has dropped to $0.70 while call volumes have increased by 102 percent in the last seven years (since 2016).
Response times are increasing because current staffing levels are unable to keep up higher call volumes. Costs to provide service are also going up. For example, costs to replace aging self-contained breathing tanks and protective gear for firefighters have doubled.
Lid lift will improve service at less cost to taxpayers than borrowing money
We are asking voters to consider returning the fire levy to $1.05 per $1,000 during the November 2023 general election. This equates to a $0.35 increase.
The revenue from the lid lift would fund:
• Two additional firefighters to keep up with higher call volumes
• Replace an aging ambulance and self-contained breathing tanks and protective gear for firefighters
• Renovations to add more sleeping quarters at the fire station to increase our 24-hour emergency response coverage
These improvements will reduce response times, improve service reliability districtwide and protect firefighter health and safety. The lid lift saves money by purchasing these items with cash as opposed to borrowing money through a bond which costs taxpayers more in interest payments. These improvements also will maintain or improve our risk rating, which is connected to what homeowners pay in insurance premiums.
What will this cost me?
The owner of a $400,000 home would pay an additional $140 per year or $11.67 per month.
Fire Chief Chief Ed Tjeerdsma welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and 360-757-2891.
Board of Fire Commissioners passes fire levy lid lift resolution - May 11, 2023
Board of Fire Commissioners to meet on fire levy resolution - April 27, 2023
Skagit County Fire District No. 6 Reports Call Volumes Are Up 102 Percent Since 2018 - 3/30/2023
Fire Chief Ed Tjeerdsma welcomes the opportunity to speak to local service organizations, community groups or homeowner associations. He can provide an overview of the fire district, the proposed lid lift, and answer any questions. Please contact him at 360-757-2891 or email@example.com.