South Everett Residents May Be Asked To Pay New Fire Benefit Charge

March 14, 2015



There is a special meeting set for Tuesday evening to explain the charge.

People living in the unincorporated areas of south Everett may be asked to change the way they pay for fire services. Currently property owners within Snohomish County Fire District 1 are asked to approve levies to fund fire protection and each is assessed the same percentage of their property’s value. Under the fire benefit charge, the amount paid is based on the overall size and use of the property. Here’s more information provided by Leslie Hynes at FD1 and an invitation to a meeting in south Everett on Tuesday to explain the idea. You can also click here to see an FAQ.

What’s a fire benefit charge? How does it stabilize funding for emergency services? Why is it fairer for taxpayers? These are just three questions that will be answered at a March 17 public hearing with Snohomish County Fire District 1’s Board of Fire Commissioners.

Fire Chief Ed Widdis will provide a brief presentation on a proposed fire benefit charge for property owners in Fire District 1 at 6 p.m. at Headquarters, 12425 Meridian Ave. S., Everett WA 98208. The public is invited to attend and ask questions. The Board of Fire Commissioners could vote next month on a resolution to place the fire benefit charge on the August 4 Primary Election ballot.

A fire benefit charge replaces a portion of the fire levy with a charge for service based on a structure’s size and use. Smaller structures (such as single-family homes) are charged less than larger buildings (such as commercial developments) because it costs less to defend them in a fire.

A fire benefit charge must be approved by voters every six years. There is no cost for undeveloped land, and discounts are given for sprinklers in commercial and multi-family buildings. Seniors, disabled persons and low-income households maintain any current exemptions they have through Snohomish County.

Nine other fire agencies in Washington rely on a fire benefit charge to stabilize revenue for emergency services. A fire benefit charge would not apply to property owners in the cities of Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, which contract for service with Fire District 1.

Fire District 1 is the largest provider of fire and emergency medical services in Snohomish County, with full-time staffing at 12 fire stations. The district serves nearly 200,000 residents in unincorporated south Snohomish County, Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.


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