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’ unified utility bill to sustainably fund public safety services. The new fee would apply to all single family homes, multi-family units, and businesses within the City limits.
Similar to what is currently in place for our water, sewer and stormwater utilities, low income senior citizens and low income disabled residents would be eligible for a 40% discount of the fee. A short application is required in order to receive the discount.
Where does my money go?
The revenues from the Ambulance Utility goes directly into the EMS fund and under state law must be specifically used for EMS purposes.
Why is the fee necessary?
The City of Arlington adopted the 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.
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 began 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.
Why an Ambulance Utility Fee?
The City Council and City directors carefully considered all options to ensure the community needs for public safety services are met. After four years of intensive study, City Council adopted the Ambulance Utility Fee as the best way to achieve these goals with a sustainable funding model. The Ambulance Utility fee is the least expensive to the citizens of all the options the City has available.
The city’s funds have largely recovered from the Great Recession. The one account that has not recovered is the EMS fund. Emergency Medical Service calls have increased much faster than the taxes that pay for the service. With the increase in the number of calls and the decrease in insurance payments received from insurance companies including Medicare and Medicaid, EMS has limited opportunities for increasing revenue. With the demand for service, EMS is experiencing response times that will not be able to keep up with the current service level.
Up until the adoption of the Ambulance Utility Fee, the City Council made the choice to provide a subsidy to EMS from the General Fund while it has explored potential solutions to the problem. This $1.5 million subsidy from the General Fund restricted the city financially from adding additional police staff to address current crime rates.
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 began 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.