Voters will decide about RFA in April

MARYSVILLE – Voters will decide in a special election April 23 if they want to fund a new Regional Fire Authority.

The City Council voted Monday in favor of the RFA, after Snohomish County Fire District 12 had previously.

If approved, the RFA would be funded by a property tax rate of $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $435 annually for a $300,000 home.

In November, a planning committee unanimously concluded an RFA would best serve residents and taxpayers in the greater Marysville area because it would provide a sustainable funding model, help meet increased demand and enhance operational efficiencies for emergency services.

“Our elected officials have taken a giant leap forward for the future of public safety. Forming a Regional Fire Authority is a great option for our community and our citizens,” Fire Chief Martin McFalls said.

Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima agreed.

“This is a big moment,” she said, adding a lot of hard work went into it because of the complexity of its many elements.

An RFA is a special purpose district with independent taxing authority that provides fire and emergency medical services. Marysville and the fire district have delivered those services under a joint operating agreement as the Marysville Fire District for more than 25 years. Since that time, Marysville has grown four times larger in size, and the population is more than five times greater. Calls for emergency service have increased nearly 50 percent since 2011. And the current financial model isn’t sustainable. Expenses are greater than revenues with the district projected to carry a $2.5 million gap for 2019. It will need to dip into reserves to operate, as it has done for years. The RFA planning committee made up of City Council and Fire District 12 board members spent last year studying the RFA proposal. The district’s service area (which includes Marysville, Fire District 12, Seven Lakes, Lakewood, portions of the Tulalip Reservation and unincorporated Snohomish County) would not change under the RFA. At one point Arlington also was part of the discussion, but that city dropped out early on.

Pro and con comments about the RFA are being solicited for inclusion in the local voters’ pamphlet. If you want to serve on a pro or con committee, submit a letter of interest that must include your name, phone number and email by Feb. 19 to: Marysville Fire Board, 1049 Cedar Ave., Marysville, WA 98270

In other council news:

•After a public hearing, the council vacated rights of way of alleys in the Comeford Park area for future construction of a municipal jail,

public safety, court and administration building, known as the Civic Campus.

•Mayor Jon Nehring read a proclamation about Black History Month. “I encourage all residents of Marysville to recognize the significant and lasting contributions that African Americans bring to the success of our community,” it says.

•The council approved federal funding of $272,450 for restriping on 80th Street from State Avenue to 51st Street to provide bicycle lanes, and widening the south side of the street from 51st to 47th to provide sidewalks.

•The council reduced the income level so more locals could receive assistance on utility bills. “It was difficult for people,” Nehring said. “This will give some more relief, especially for disabled folks.”

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