Emergency Services Funding – Fire District 3 provides fire, rescue and emergency medical service (EMS) 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Of the more than 7,000 calls for service per year, more than 85% of these are EMS-related. The District’s emergency responders are all cross-trained to provide both fire and EMS to the estimated 34,000 citizens who live and work within the 142 square mile service area.
The Fire District relies on two property tax levies to fund emergency services – a general levy that provides nearly 75% of all revenue and an EMS levy that provides the remaining 25%. With 85% of the community’s calls for service being EMS, the Fire District relies on the general levy to fund EMS care.
Over time, these levy rates fall as property values rise, which limits the Fire District to roughly the same amount of revenue per year plus a 1% increase allowed by law. The 1% increase in revenue is not keeping up with the cost to provide service due to inflation and increasing call volumes (27.4% in the last five years).
Voters originally approved a general levy of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2004. Since that time, the general levy, which provides a majority of fire district funding, has fallen to $1.26. Levy rates fall as property values rise to limit the fire district to roughly the same amount of revenue per year plus a one percent increase allowed by law - the one percent increase is less than inflation.
The Fire District is asking voters to return the general levy to $1.50 on the November ballot. If approved by voters, the 24-cent lid lift would be an additional $5 per month ($60 per year) for the owner of a home assessed at $250,000. Funding would be used to maintain service levels, the fire district’s emergency preparedness program, improve staffing where possible, train personnel, and fund apparatus and facility needs.
The general levy rate is capped by law at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The ballot measure would allow the fire district to maintain that rate based on the Consumer Price Index for the region over the next six years.