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A Regional Fire Authority (RFA) is a special purpose district, similar to a school district, with independent taxing authority that provides fire and emergency medical services. Formation of an RFA is authorized by state law and created by a vote of the people in the proposed service area.
Fire and emergency medical services are some of the most important services we provide. These services have been delivered under a joint operating agreement through the Marysville Fire District (MFD) 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.
Key considerations in proposing an RFA include:
An RFA will meet increased demand and changing needs for services, while creating a sustainable funding model for the future.
If an RFA is approved by voters, the service area will stay the same, and firefighters and other staff from the Marysville Fire District (MFD) will become employees of the RFA. All equipment (fire engines, ambulances, furniture, etc.) will be transferred to the new RFA at no cost. Service efficiencies are expected under an RFA and the governance structure will change to a more representative model.
Service areas will not change under the RFA. The RFA will cover the same area as the current Marysville Fire District, which provides fire and emergency medical services within the Marysville city limits and Fire District 12, including the areas of Lake Stevens, Lakewood, portions of the Tulalip Reservation and unincorporated Snohomish County. The RFA will allow for possible future expansion into neighboring districts.
Fire and emergency medical services through the Marysville Fire District are currently funded by a property tax levy in Fire District 12 and out of the general fund in the City of Marysville. An RFA will create a single funding source, with money collected through taxes going directly to the RFA instead of passing through other jurisdictions.
Funding under an RFA is a key difference from the current structure.
If the RFA is approved, the levy would go into effect in 2020. All residents will pay an RFA levy rate of $1.45 per $1,000 assessed value - this is approximately $435 on a $300,000 home.
For Marysville residents, the RFA will change the way they pay for fire services. Currently, the City of Marysville funds fire services out of its general fund, which is supported by property taxes as well as other revenue such as sales tax. City property taxes also pay for other essential city services including law enforcement, streets and more.
If voters approve an RFA, all residents (both in and outside city limits) will pay $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed value directly to the RFA for fire and emergency services. This is approximately $435 annually on a $300,000 home. The city will also continue to collect other property taxes, at a reduced rate to help offset taxpayer impacts of the RFA levy, to support other city services including law enforcement, streets and more. The total property tax increase for the owner of a $300,000 home is approximately $20.75/month or $249/year.
For Fire District 12 residents, the existing $1.02 per $1,000 of assessed value Fire District Fire Levy will be replaced by a new $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed value RFA levy. The difference for the owner of a $300,00 home is approximately $10.75 per month or $129 per year. Fire District 12 residents have not been asked for a property tax increase to pay for fire services in more than a decade.
City residents will pay a rate of $1.45 per $1,000 assessed value directly to the RFA for fire protection and emergency services, exactly the same rate as Fire District 12 residents will pay. The main difference is that the fire district property tax pays exclusively for fire services, while the current city property tax pay not only for fire services but also for other essential city services including law enforcement, roads, etc. The city will continue to collect other property taxes, at a reduced rate to help offset taxpayer impacts of the RFA levy, to support other city services. This results in a total property tax increase to city residents of $20.75/month or $249/year for the owner of a $300,000 home.
The RFA model has been adopted by many communities over the last decade. There are currently 12 RFAs in Washington state, almost all in western Washington.
The Marysville City Council and Fire District 12 Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in February 2019 to propose an RFA to the voters on the April 2019 ballot. Therefore, Marysville and Fire District 12 voters will decide the future of their fire services. If approved, the RFA becomes effective Oct. 1, 2019 and tax collection begins in 2020. Education about the RFA is being undertaken prior to the election to ensure voters have needed information.
To learn more about the proposed RFA, visit www.marysvillewa.gov/rfa or contact us at: Fire@mfdrfa.org.