Ambulance Utility Fee

The Arlington City Council is considering adoption of an Ambulance Utility Fee that would be added to your monthly utility bill to ensure public safety is sustainably funded and staffed to support our community.

The City Council is considering this fee after four years of intensive study to find a sustainable model to fund Emergency Medical Services (EMS). EMS services are currently funded through an EMS Property Tax Levy and fees paid by other jurisdictions that contract with the City of Arlington for services. This still leaves a $1.5 million gap in funding that must be filled with funds from the General Fund, impacting other programs and services. The Council and City directors have carefully considered all options to ensure the community needs for public safety services are met.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ambulance Utility Fee? 

The Ambulance Utility Fee is a $15 per month per billable unit charge on businesses’ and residents’ water, sewer and storm water bill to sustainably fund public safety services.

Why is the fee necessary? 

The City of Arlington is proposing an Ambulance Utility Fee to ensure public safety is sustainably funded and staffed to support our community.

The fee addresses concerns around call response times and increases in homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse in and around our community.

How is EMS funded now? 

EMS services are currently funded through an EMS Property Tax levied at a maximum of $0.50/thousand dollars of assessed value. It is supported by transportation fees provided by other jurisdictions that do not have their own public safety services and utilize Arlington to provide those services.

Even with these funding mechanisms there is still a shortfall of $1.5 million to cover current costs. To fill that gap, the City has used its General Fund to ensure that services are fully funded. Taking from the General Fund makes it difficult to fund public safety and has restricted public safety from adding staff.

The Ambulance Utility Fee ensures that public safety is sustainably funded and staffed, without dipping into the General Fund.

What are the benefits of the fee? 

The Ambulance Utility Fee funds increasing public safety services and provides relief to the General Fund, allowing us to hire new police officers and fire personnel to serve the community. Recruitment and hiring of two new police officers will begin immediately on passage by the City Council. In addition, three fire personnel and one additional police officer will be hired over the next three years.

Why an Ambulance Utility Fee? 

The City Council and City directors have carefully considered all options to ensure the community needs for public safety services are met. After four years of intensive study, City Council recommends the Ambulance Utility Fee as the best way to achieve these goals with a sustainable funding model.

Has this been implemented in other jurisdictions? 

This is a sustainable funding model that has proven successful to support and grow public safety in communities across Washington state.

When will the community see benefits? 

Recruitment and hiring of two new police officers will begin immediately on passage by the City Council. In addition, Council has committed to hire three fire personnel and one additional police officer, a domestic violence coordinator, and a police services officer over the next three years.

How can I have input?

The City Council has scheduled a Public Hearing on the proposed Ambulance Utility Fee for Monday, July 2, 2018 in the Arlington City Council Chambers, 110 E. Third Street. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. Written comments may be submitted in advance of the hearing to Kristin Banfield, Communications Manager / City Clerk. All comments received will be provided to the City Council for their consideration.