In April 2019, voters approved the formation of a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) between the City of Marysville and Snohomish County Fire District 12.
The RFA levy is not completely new funding for fire services. But it is a different and more stable way of funding fire services. It's also a more transparent way of funding fire services. A line on your tax statement will tell you exactly how much you're paying into the RFA.
Why did fire funding need to be increased?
Marysville Fire District previously received funding from City of Marysville (through the city's regular levy) and Snohomish County Fire District 12 residents (through the fire levy) at a rate of $1.02/$1,000 of assessed property value. That wasn’t actually enough to cover the cost of providing service to our community, so we covered the gap with money we’d been able to save in past years.
That’s why, before the 2019 RFA vote, we hadn't asked for a funding increase since 2007. In 2007, our emergency call volume was 42 percent lower (9,874 calls in 2007) than what it is today (13,996 calls in 2019).
How much does funding for fire service increase under the RFA?
Marysville Fire District previously received funding at a rate of $1.02/$1,000 of assessed property value from City of Marysville and Snohomish County Fire District 12 residents. Voters approved the RFA Levy at a rate of $1.45/$1,000. That’s an increase of $0.43/$1,000, which translates to about $5.6 million in regular levy funding for the RFA.
The $0.43 increase for property owners in the City of Marysville and Snohomish County Fire District 12 amounts to about $172/year on a $400,000 home or $129/year on a $300,000 home.
In the City of Marysville, property owners will see an overall $0.82 increase on their 2020 tax statement. The City of Marysville reduced its Regular Levy rate by $0.63 because the city is no longer funding fire service, so $1.45 - $0.63 = $0.82. The funding increase actually going to the RFA is still $0.43/$1,000 of assessed property value.
Am I eligible for an RFA tax exemption?
Washington State has two programs that may help you pay your property taxes if you are a senior citizen or disabled person. Learn more about those programs and whether you're eligible by following the links here and here.
Am I still paying the City of Marysville for fire service?
No. As of January 1, 2020, property owners within the City of Marysville no longer pay the city for fire services. You now pay for fire services directly to the RFA. This makes it easy to identify exactly how much of your money is going to those services.
Isn’t the fire district getting plenty of funding from increased home values and new properties being built?
Increased property values don’t necessarily mean increased funding for government agencies. In fact, property value increases can actually lead to a decrease in tax rates. That’s because Washington State law limits an increase in total taxes collected by individual districts to one percent each year. For example, if the RFA collects $1 million in taxes, it can only levy $1.01 million the following year. If your property value goes up, that means the rate at which you are taxed actually decreases, unless otherwise approved by voters. To learn more about how this works, click here.
In addition, more people moving to our area means more families in need of emergency services, which increases the cost to provide those services.
How is money collected through the RFA Levy used?
Money collected by the RFA Levy is used to pay for Marysville Fire District staffing, equipment, facility maintenance, training, fuel, supplies, operational management, community risk reduction programs, record maintenance and running the fire district in general. The money guarantees that when a person in our community calls 911 to request our services, we will be there, no matter how big or small the emergency.
What are the other sources of funding for the RFA?
Sources of funding for Marysville Fire District include the RFA Levy ($1.45/$1,000 of assessed value), an EMS levy ($0.50/$1,000 of assessed value), ambulance transport fees and service contracts with other neighboring agencies.
Why does the fire district still need an EMS Levy if funding increased?
Both the RFA Levy and EMS Levy are needed to cover the cost of providing service. Marysville Fire District is a full-service fire department. The RFA Levy guarantees that when you call 911 in need of our help, we will be there no matter how big or small your emergency. The EMS Levy guarantees that, in addition to responding, we will transport you to a hospital if needed. The EMS Levy is specifically designated for care and transport of the sick or injured. The EMS Levy itself does not cover the cost of providing patient transport services, so the district must also charge ambulance transport fees.
Could a private ambulance company be used for patient transport instead?
Yes, any community could rely on private ambulance companies to transport patients to the hospital. In that case, an EMS levy would not be needed. In our community, there is no private ambulance service available that would be able to handle the high volume of medical calls. In 2019, Marysville Fire District responded to 12,265 medical calls and transported 6,013 patients. We provide both BLS (basic life support) and ALS (advanced life support) care and transport. We do not provide interfaciltiy transport (needed if a patient is moving between medical facilities).
Have other questions?