Measure Could Be on August Primary Election Ballot

Langley, WA – The Board of Fire Commissioners for South Whidbey Fire/EMS will meet to consider a resolution to place a fire levy lid lift on the August 4 Primary Election ballot. That meeting will take place on March 12, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. at 5579 Bayview Road in Langley. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS provides emergency services to 15,600 people over 66 square miles. The Fire District has some full-time and part-time personnel, but relies primarily on volunteers to respond to an average of 2,600 calls a year.

Call volumes have increased 12 percent for the Fire District since 2014. The Fire District has lost 30 percent of its volunteers since the last recession, and requires more full-time personnel to respond to emergencies.

It also needs to replace aging apparatus, and wants to pay cash for these capital items instead of financing them which costs taxpayers more due to interest payments. Less debt also makes the Fire District more secure financially in case of an economic downturn.

Staffing and apparatus deficiencies resulted in the community’s insurance rating being downgraded in 2018. This rating is linked to how much home and business owners pay in insurance premiums.

The Fire District is considering asking voters to approve a 30-cent fire levy lid lift during the August 4 Primary Election. Funding would be used to hire up to eight full-time firefighter/emergency medical technicians and replace aging apparatus, such as two 26-year old fire engines and three medical emergency response vehicles (MERV). The lid lift would be 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or approximately $10 per month for the owner of a $400,000 home.

More information about the fire levy lid lift can be found on the website at www.swfe.org under “Public Information.” Community members with questions who are unable to attend the meeting are encouraged to contact Chief Rusty Palmer at 360-321-1533 or chief@swfe.org. All communication is welcome and becomes part of the public record.

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South Whidbey Fire/EMS provides emergency services to 15,600 people over 66 square miles. The fire district has some full-time and part-time personnel, but relies primarily on volunteers to respond to an average of 2,600 calls a year. The fire district operates under a balanced budget and has a proud history of passing its financial and accountability audits by the state. In 2017, it earned a double-A rating with a leading bond agency because of its sound financial practices.