RFA FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s on my ballot?

The City of Arlington is asking voters to annex the Arlington Fire Department to North County Regional Fire Authority (NCRFA).

Why is my City asking for this?

The City of Arlington is struggling to fund fire, emergency medical services (EMS) and other services residents want such as police, roads, parks and trails, planning, and community facilities. As call volumes and costs increase for fire and EMS, it reduces funding for other city services and puts emergency service levels at risk. 

How are fire and EMS funded now?

Currently, property owners pay a general property tax levy to the City for fire, EMS and other services. Property owners also pay a City EMS levy and all utility customers pay an Ambulance Utility Fee (AUF) of $15 per month/$180 per year. Fire and EMS costs alone would exceed all property tax revenue that the City collects if it weren’t for the EMS levy and AUF.

Why do we pay an Ambulance Utility Fee?

The AUF was designed as temporary funding for emergency services until a permanent solution – such as annexation – could be found.

How will funding change under annexation?

Under annexation, property owners would pay a dedicated fire levy and an EMS levy directly to NCRFA. In return, Arlington will reduce its general property tax levy and eliminate the City EMS levy and AUF. The City would retain some of the property tax revenue for other services the community wants.

What is another benefit of annexation?

Currently, the City bills a patient for any ambulance transport costs in excess of what that person’s insurance covers. Under annexation, any excess cost would be covered through the EMS levy a property owner pays to NCRFA.

What will annexation cost?

Annexation would take effect in August 2021 with property owners seeing the change to their tax statements in 2022. Based on the most current data for home values, 54% of City property owners would save money or pay the same for emergency services; 28% would see an increase up to $5 per month/$60 per year; and, 18% would see an increase greater than $5 per month.

What will happen if annexation is not approved?

The City of Arlington will have to double the Ambulance Utility Fee to $30 per month/$360 per year and increase its EMS levy to meet the rising cost to provide fire and EMS.

What is North County Regional Fire Authority?   

NCRFA is a separate taxing district authorized to provide fire and EMS services. It’s one of the oldest regional fire authorities in the state serving north Snohomish County and the City of Stanwood, which annexed in 2018. It is governed by Board of Fire Commissioners elected by voters in its service area.

Do both agencies work together now?

Yes, Arlington Fire Department has a long-standing partnership with North County Fire & EMS. The agencies currently share a medical services officer, fire marshal, community paramedic, training programs, and part-time emergency personnel. 

How will annexation improve service?

Finalizing this partnership through annexation would allow better deployment of personnel, improve training opportunities for firefighters, and provide more emergency resources for City residents.

How will annexation provide cost-efficiencies for taxpayers?

Annexation will reduce the need for more administrative staff and emergency personnel. It also is more efficient for taxpayers long-term because capital needs such as fire stations, apparatus and equipment would be shared by more people. 

Will we still have our local firefighters and fire stations in the City?

Yes, all staff and emergency personnel will become employees of NCRFA. Arlington would still have fire stations in the City, fire prevention programs in schools, and local firefighters participating in community events, including the annual Santa Run Food Drive.

Do Arlington firefighters support annexation?

Yes, local firefighters support the proposal.

Who can I contact with additional questions?

City Administrator Paul Ellis (360-403-4603, pellis@arlingtonwa.gov) and Fire Chief Dave Kraski (360-403-3607 dkraski@arlingtonwa.gov) are available to answer questions. Thank you for considering our request.