MARYSVILLE – The Regional Fire Authority passed voter approval by 105 votes, according to the tally Thursday night.
With almost all of the ballots counted at 12,545, the measure passed 6,325 to 6,220, or 50.42 percent to 49.58 percent. Only a few ballots are left to be counted.
On election night, the measure was passing only 50.13 percent to 49.87 percent. That lead improved a little bid Wednesday night, with passage at 50.34 percent to 49.66 percent.
The measure needed a simple 50 percent majority to pass. The election will be certified May 3.
The RFA will officially be formed Oct. 1, and taxes will be collected starting in 2020.
The cost of the merger of the Marysville Fire Department and Snohomish County Fire District 12 was set at $1.45 per $1,000 valuation on property. That amounts to $435 a year on a $300,000 home – about $120 a year more than previously.
Fire officials have said that if the measure passes, response times for fire and emergency medical services would improve as they would be able to hire more people to be fully staffed. The RFA would combine equipment, resources, firefighters and EMS workers under one department, reducing duplication of services. That would mean relying less on mutual aid from nearby fire departments, which costs victims money. Taxpayers pay the city for fire service now. If the RFA passes, the city plans to reduce its tax since that would no longer be the case.
The MFD and District 12 have been working together for decades. An RFA solidifies that relationship, improves efficiencies, is more cost-effective and provides more-stable funding and service. It would help meet future growth and increasing service demands, fire officials have said.
The two agencies have not raised taxes since 2007 and have been using reserves to stay afloat. But those reserves are running out. Upgrades have been put on hold.
If it passes, the department’s insurance rating would improve, saving property owners money on fire insurance. And it would also be more responsive to taxpayers, as it would be represented by four Marysville City Council members and one District 12 fire commissioner.