Fire & EMS Annexation

March 28, 2022
On behalf of the City of Mill Creek, I want to thank voters for supporting the City’s request to annex into South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Regional Fire Authority (South County Fire). Annexing to South County Fire was the most cost-effective choice considering current data for 2022. 

Annexation will take effect in August, and property owners will start paying taxes to South County Fire in January of 2023. In the meantime, we will continue to pay Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue (SRFR) for service until our contract expires on December 31, 2022.

We appreciate the high-quality service SRFR has provided the city since 1983. Both SRFR and South County Fire have assured a seamless transition between the agencies. 

The Mill Creek Station will continue to have the same number of apparatus, firefighters and paramedics serving the community. The level and quality of service residents and businesses require will not change. We encourage residents to learn more about South County Fire at www.southsnofire.org. 

Thank you,

Martin Yamamoto, Interim City Manager
City of Mill Creek 


The City of Mill Creek is asking voters to consider annexing to South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Regional Fire Authority (South County Fire) during the April 26, 2022, Special Election.

The City is unable to renew its current emergency services contract from a different provider without a substantial cost increase. City officials researched all possible options and concluded that South County Fire is the lowest cost provider for the same quality and level of service.
If annexation is approved, South County Fire will operate from the Mill Creek Fire Station 24 hours a day with the same number of firefighters and apparatus as are there currently. What would change is how you pay for emergency services. 
Instead of paying taxes to the City for a fire service contract, property owners would pay South County Fire directly. South County Fire is funded with a fire levy and emergency medical services (EMS) levy plus a fire benefit charge. In 2022, a 2,000 square foot home valued at $602,000 (the average in Mill Creek) would have paid $882.73 for emergency services from South County Fire. This is based on the 2022 combined tax rate for South County Fire of $1.35/$1,000 assessed value, plus a $70.03 fire benefit charge.  

A fire benefit charge replaces some property taxes in funding emergency services. It is not a tax; it is a fee based on the size and use of a structure and the resources required to fight a fire. Single-family homes pay less than commercial developments because it costs less to defend a house in a fire compared to a warehouse.

If annexation is approved, in 2023 the City will stop collecting $4.3 million in taxes paid to the City for the current fire/EMS contract. This means the City will reduce its general property tax levy in 2023 by $2.6 million and remove the City EMS levy of $1.7 million.

The net result is that the average homeowner would pay an additional $379.26 a year ($31.61 a month) for emergency services if annexation were in place in 2022. 

South County Fire borders the City of Mill Creek to the north, west, and east with four stations near the city limitsIf annexation is
not approved by voters, the City will have to cut services significantly or find new revenues to pay for contract fire/EMS services. Revenue options include asking voters to increase the EMS levy and the City’s general property tax levy and having the City Council pass a new utility tax.

We will continue to provide updates as information is available. Thank you for considering our request.


BALLOTS DUE APRIL 26
Special Election ballots must be mailed on or before April 26, 2022 to be counted. Ballots can also be returned to an official drop box until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Locations can be found at Snohomish County Elections or locally: 

Q&A MEETINGS
Two public meetings were held for Mill Creek residents to ask questions about the proposal to annex to South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Regional Fire Authority (South County Fire).   

REQUEST A PRESENTATION
To arrange a 15-30 minute presentation, please contact the Communications Office at 425-582-6015 or email [email protected].

The City of Mill Creek would welcome the opportunity to provide a virtual or in-person presentation to local groups and organizations about the annexation to South County Fire for fire and EMS being considered for the April 26, 2022 ballot. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Click for larger version

Statement from South County Fire Board Chair