South County Fire’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a balanced budget that funds emergency services operations for 2024.
According to a news release, the nearly $110 million operating budget funds current levels of emergency services and includes a 1% increase in both the fire and EMS property tax levies, as allowed by Washington state law. Commissioners also approved a 2% increase in the benefit charge.
Regional fire authority (RFA) voters first approved the benefit charge in 2020. A benefit charge is based on building size and use rather than assessed value. Smaller structures, such as homes, are charged less than large commercial buildings because it costs less to serve them during a fire.
“The benefit charge allows us to keep overall rates lower for the vast majority of taxpayers, while delivering the same high-quality emergency service,” said Assistant Fire Chief Bob Eastman. “With the benefit charge, your fire risk dictates what you pay rather than your property value. It’s a more equitable model for our community.”
The owner of a 2,000-square-foot home will pay an additional 75 cents for the benefit charge in 2024. Learn more about the benefit charge here.
The levy rates and benefit charge apply to properties within the RFA, which includes the cities of Brier, Lynnwood, Mill Creek and Mountlake Terrace along with communities in unincorporated southwest Snohomish County. The City of Edmonds contracts with the RFA to provide emergency services and collects its own taxes and fees to pay for the services provided by the RFA.
South County Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to nearly 300,000 residents of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace and unincorporated southwest Snohomish County.