City of Sedro-Woolley Proposition 1
WHAT WE DO
- We provide fire and life safety services to over 12,000 residents. We rely on full-time, part-time, and volunteer emergency personnel who have responded to over 3,600 calls last year.
- This is an increase of over 1,100 calls per year since 2018.
- From January through June 30, 2023, 37% of Sedro-Woolley Fire Department’s incidents have had a second 911 emergency happen prior to crews being able to complete their first assigned incident.
- Our emergency personnel are trained in the following areas:
- Fire suppression and prevention
- Medical Emergencies
- Hazardous material response
- Vehicle accidents and extrication
- Fire and life safety education
THE LID LIFT WILL REDUCE RESPONSE TIMES AND IMPROVE SERVICE
- It will fund 8 additional firefighter/EMT’s.
- These 8 new personnel will allow for the ability to add one extra engine or ambulance each day.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Property tax systems can be either rate-based or levy-based. Washington State is one of two states that use a levy-based property tax system as opposed to rate-based system. Under Washington’s levy-based system, state law allows a taxing district to collect a specified total dollar amount (the levy) per year, as opposed to a rate-based system which charges a tax rate on assessed value. The county assessor calculates the tax rate by dividing the levy amount by the total value of all property within the jurisdiction. The tax is expressed in dollars per $1,000 of assessed value (called the millage rate). So, with a levy-based system when the total value of property within a jurisdiction falls, the rates increase to raise the same amount of money, and when property values increase, then the rate would decrease to collect the same amount of money.
- Washington’s property tax is a levy-based property tax system, which means state law allows a taxing district like the City to collect a specified total dollar amount (the levy) per year. The City is just one of several taxing districts that have taxing authority within the City of Sedro-Woolley. State law limits levy increases to 1% per year for each separate taxing district. The exception to this rule is the levy lid lift, which allows taxing jurisdictions to ask the voters to approve increasing the levy rate (lid lift) to an amount equal to or less than the statutory maximum tax rate which is $3.600 per $1,000 of assessed value for Sedro-Woolley.
- Since 2014, Sedro-Woolley Fire Department call volume has increased by 89%, from 1,931 to 3,635 calls in 2022. The rate of calls frequently means that the department is responding to multiple calls at the same time. A delay in response can occur when there are multiple calls because a unit must respond from an outlying station.
- Chapter 296-305 of the Washington Administrative Code requires four fire personnel on scene before firefighters can enter a burning structure to search for victims or extinguish the fire. Firefighters must know with certainty that a victim is inside a structure fire to enter with a minimum of three personnel on scene and no entry may be made to rescue victims with less than three firefighters on the scene. Sedro-Woolley currently has two fire personnel at each fire station. This means that no rescue can be attempted at a structure fire until a second unit from another station arrives, which causes an average delay of 7-12 minutes. The increased staffing levels will allow firefighters to immediately enter a structure fire to control the fire and rescue victims.
- A homeowner with a home value of $400,000 would pay an additional $326.58 per year, or $27.22 per month.
- In 2023, the levy rate was 1.8008, the homeowner paid $720.32 in City of Sedro-Woolley property tax. If the levy was increased to 2.6173, the homeowner would pay $1,046.90.
- Property taxes collected by the City go into the City’s general fund, which supports all day-to-day services provided by the City other than the solid waste, stormwater, and wastewater utilities. If approved by Sedro-Woolley voters, Proposition 1 would provide funding to increase staffing for fire and emergency medical services by 8 positions.
- While we currently have 27 volunteers who provide selfless service to our community. This is down from 10 years ago, when we maintained 40-45 volunteers. We have always had an amazing program for volunteers to obtain experience, certifications, and training to prepare themselves to be hired by career departments. Twenty years ago, we would at most have one or two individuals a year leave for full-time opportunities. In the past 5 years, we have lost an average of 4-5 volunteers who were hired as career firefighters. The State of Washington has gone from 23,000 volunteer firefighters in 1984 to less than 10,000 currently. We are extremely fortunate with the dedication that we have from our current membership and will continue to recruit and rely on these amazing individuals. However, with call volume increasing, it gets harder to ask an individual to leave their family, jobs and responsibilities 10-15 times every day to respond.
- Senior citizens or persons with disabilities may qualify for tax exemptions or tax deferrals.
- For more information about these options, please contact the Skagit County Assessor’s Office at (360) 416-1780 or visit their website.