The Tulalip Bay Fire District will have an Emergency Medical Services levy on the Feb. 11 ballot meant to maintain their current services.
The measure would restore the property tax rate to $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It is currently at $0.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Those funds could only be used for emergency services and related expenses.
That would mean an additional $62,000 annually that would help the district keep their current EMS program.
“We’re going to use those funds for Emergency Medical Services. We have our ALS [Advanced Life Support] program that we recently put together,” said Tulalip Bay fire chief Ryan Shaughnessy.
“The amount isn’t significant enough to increase or add to our services, but it will absolutely help fund and maintain our current services,” he said.
Recently the district received their license to perform advanced life support, instead of just the basic life support they had already provided.
“In this last year, for the first time in the history of this fire department, we became a paramedic life support agency,” said Deputy Chief James Reinhardt. “We’re making real historic leaps as far as progress goes."
That means paramedics are closer for emergency response for the fire district's jurisdiction (which is the majority of the Tulalip reservation).
“Our goal is to make this a 24-hour Advanced Life Support with a medic unit coming out of this station,” said Shaughnessy.
He said that was possible in the near future. Currently the district has five staff members going through paramedic training.
“That increased level of medical care comes with a price tag and we’re trying to do what we can to continue that service,” said Reinhardt.
The district has already been stocking up to provide better medical services with their new license, he said.
“We just purchased a brand new defibrillator that cost us $40,000,” said Reinhardt. “That’s a piece of equipment that we use to protect the lives of people in the community.”
The funding from the levy will be going toward areas like education, training and pay raises as well.
“We’re a newer department so we have fairly significant pay raises coming to everybody as they move along in their steps for their union contract,” said Shaughnessy.
The Tulalip Bay Fire District’s levy also allows the district to collect up to 6 percent more each year for the next six years, as long as the total tax rate doesn’t increase above $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Normally these types of levies can only increase 1 percent each year.
“A couple of our neighboring districts have done this. State law says we can increase up to 6 percent each year as long as that is voted on,” said Shaughnessy.
“It allows us to keep up with rising costs and also requires us every six years to go back to the voters,” he said.
The district is not obligated to increase their collections 6 percent each year and ultimately those decisions are left up to the Tulalip Bay Fire District board of commissioners.
Shaughnessy noted that levies are only a portion of the funding the Tulalip Bay Fire District receives and they also seek community partners and grants to help offset costs as well.
“The Tulalip Tribes have been overly generous this past couple of years and they really want to help improve our services,” Shaughnessy said.
He said he looks forward to seeing the levy results.
“It’s a report card for us on how we’re doing with our citizens. If they’re happy with the product they’re receiving and how we’re running our services, they’re likely to vote ‘yes,’” said Shaughnessy.
The district is working with a PR firm to create some pamphlets to distribute at local grocery stores with information about the levy, said Shaughnessy. He expects that effort to begin the first week of February.
Shaughnessy and Reinhardt said they are available at the fire station to talk with residents who have questions about the levy measure as well. The telephone number for the Tulalip Bay Fire Station is 360-659-2416.