Public Invited to Provide Comment
At two upcoming meetings, the Arlington City Council will discuss asking voters to consider annexing its fire department to North County Fire & EMS. The purpose of annexation would be to provide a sustainable funding source for fire and emergency medical service (EMS) .
The City Council will hold meetings on October 26 and November 2 to discuss the issue of annexation. The public is invited to participate and comment on the issue. Virtual meeting access information can be found on the City’s website meeting calendar at www.arlingtonwa.gov. If the City Council approves a resolution at the November 2 meeting, the proposal would be on the February 9, 2021 Special Election ballot for voters in the City of Arlington.
Currently, property owners pay a general tax levy to the City of which almost 65 percent goes to the fire department. As emergency call volumes and costs increase, the Arlington Fire Department competes with other city services for funding.Property owners also pay an EMS levy and all City utility customers pay a monthly Ambulance Utility Fee.
Under annexation, property owners would pay a fire and EMS levy directly to North County Fire & EMS. The City would eliminate its Ambulance Utility Fee, and reduce its general property tax levy. The remaining property tax revenue would be used for traffic congestion relief projects in Island Crossing and Smokey Point. The net result is that the average homeowner (defined as a home valued at $400,000) is projected to pay an additional $60 per year if annexation were approved.
The Arlington Fire Department has a long-standing partnership with North County Fire & EMS. The agencies currently share a medical services officer, fire marshal, community paramedic, training programs, and part-time emergency personnel.
Annexation is more cost-effective for taxpayers because it would reduce the need for additional administrative staff, emergency personnel, apparatus and equipment. Long-term, it would reduce impacts to taxpayers because the cost for capital items (such as fire stations) is shared by more property owners.
More information can be found on the City’s website at www.arlingtonwa.gov. City Administrator Paul Ellis (360-403-4603, email@example.com) and Fire Chief Dave Kraski (360-403-3607 firstname.lastname@example.org) also are available to answer questions.