RFAlevy0828

Station 96 of the North County RFA which the organization hopes to more fully staff in the future.

 

The North County Regional Fire Authority plans to put a proposal on the November to ask for levy funding meant for additional staff and equipment.

The local Regional Fire Authority covers areas northeast of Arlington city limits and around Stanwood.

If approved the measure would increase their levy collection rate from the current $1.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

That increase would mean about $49 per year for a home that is valued at $350,000.

The last time the RFA requested a levy was in 2008.

“The way it works in this state is that you can only increase your levy collection 1 percent each year,” said John Cermak, fire chief for the RFA. “With 2.4 percent or more in inflation each year you can see how it doesn’t add up."

That means the overall property tax rate slowly falls if voters don’t approve a new levy measure.

Fire districts in the state must periodically go back to the voters to ask for a levy increase because of the way the state law works, which was put in place by a voter initiative.

Cermak said that the RFA is going back to the voters now because they have to begin responding to an increasing population.

“We recently completed a community-based strategic plan about how we respond to increased call volume,” he said. “We have to grow with the area here.”

The RFA hopes to begin putting together staffing and equipment to fully man a new station as part of that process.

Across the RFA’s jurisdiction there are currently five stations.

“We currently have Station 96,” however that station is only staffed by two part-timers, said Cermak. “They only provide basic life support response.”

Fully staffing the station is one of the goals of the RFA’s plan.

“That would be more fully staffed with these funds,” said Cermak. “That is where the biggest growth in our area is happening as well,” he said.

Since 2013 the North County RFA has received a call volume increase of about 37 percent, said Cermak.

“These funds are important essentially to meet our call demands and prepare for the growth around the county,” he said.

Population estimates continue to show the areas around north Snohomish County growing as more people push north of Seattle and King County.

“We need to grow with the community,”Cermak said.

The RFA is examining other options for funding in addition to their levy proposal.

“We’re also looking for grants such as a SAFER [a federally-based Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response] grant which helps organizations like ours grow,” said Cermak.

“In the event we get both we could have up to six more staff members,” he said.

People who want to learn more about the RFA or about the levy proposal can talk with the chief, who said his e-mail and phone number are available at the RFA’s website at northcountyfireems.com.

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