Regional Fire Authority (RFA)
North County Regional Fire Authority (NCRFA) and Arlington Fire Department
The City of Arlington provides high quality fire and emergency medical services (EMS) for residents and businesses. In 2020, property owners paid the city a general tax levy of $1.42 per $1,000 of assessed value of which $0.92 (almost 65%) goes to fire suppression. They also paid a levy for emergency medical service (EMS) of $0.33 per $1,000, and all city utility customers pay an ambulance utility fee of $15 per month/$180 per year.
As emergency call volumes and costs increase, the amount of revenue for other city services (such as police, streets, planning, and parks) decreases. The city is considering asking voters to annex the Arlington Fire Department to North County Fire & EMS to stabilize funding for and to maintain the quality of emergency services that our community needs.
The city’s fire department and North County Fire & EMS currently share a medical services officer, fire marshal, community paramedic, training programs, and part-time emergency personnel. Finalizing this partnership through annexation would allow better use of personnel, improve training opportunities for firefighters, and provide more emergency resources for city residents. This will reduce the need for and cost of additional administrative positions, emergency personnel, apparatus and equipment. Combining both agencies also is more efficient for taxpayers long-term because capital needs (such as fire stations, apparatus and equipment) would be shared by more property owners.
Arlington would still have fire stations located inside the city, fire prevention programs, and local firefighters participating in community events, such as the annual Santa Run Food Drive. And, city residents would be able to vote on fire authority matters such as commissioners, levies, and bonds, which they currently can’t do.
Under annexation, property owners would pay a dedicated fire and EMS levy to North County Fire & EMS. In return, the city plans to reduce its general tax levy and eliminate the ambulance utility fee. Without annexation, the city would have to increase its ambulance utility fee and EMS levy rate to meet the rising cost to provide service.
We will continue to provide information as annexation conversations progress. In the meantime, thank you for learning more about this important issue.