Letter to editor: No benefits for Mukilteo in proposed Regional Fire Authority
Last updated 7/5/2020 at 6:37pm
Dear Mayor and Council,
The City of Everett sent you a letter May 22, which said “the City of Everett faces significant financial challenges as a result of the economic impacts of the pandemic and the structural issues created by I-747. We have been aggressively examining options to stabilize our financial footing … One of those options includes collaboration with a neighboring jurisdiction on the formation of a regional fire authority. We believe Mukilteo would be an excellent partner.”
It is obvious the purpose of their letter is to help reduce Everett’s financial problems and that is what the above quote from their letter says. It does not mention financial or other benefits for Mukilteo. Creation of a regional fire authority (RFA) would put fire and EMS services into a new organization that would have its own taxing authority. That authority would be dominated by Everett, as Everett is five times the size of Mukilteo and would have majority voting for how the (RFA) operates. When that authority wants more taxes it would put it to a vote of the combined Everett/Mukilteo RFA taxpayer membership. Everett voters would have the deciding vote due to their majority size.
The same rate of tax would apply to all property in the RFA. Mukilteo property is valued much higher than Everett property. By applying one rate to all property in the RFA, Mukilteo property owners would pay much more per household than Everett property owners. Thus Mukilteo would subsidize fire and EMS service in Everett. That is part of how Everett expects to meet its stated goal of reducing the financial challenges they refer to in their letter.
Establishing an RFA creates this new entity that would have its own property tax funding. The City of Everett would no longer pay for its fire and EMS services through the Everett City budget because the cost of fire and EMS would be passed on to the new and separately funded RFA. That reduces Everett City General Fund and EMS expenses for the total cost of their fire and EMS. However, Everett taxpayers would have to pay a new property tax to fund the RFA, adding to what they now pay to Everett in property tax.
Mukilteo taxpayers would also have the new RFA property tax to pay, added to what we now pay. This would be a substantial new and added tax for Mukilteo taxpayers this is not wanted or needed under our current operations. Mukilteo continues to tell us our financial status is not in any significant problem and our current GAP for 2020 is manageable and not significant. Everett has a financial problem and you tell us we do not have a financial problem.
The RFA would remove Mukilteo’s control over our fire and EMS service and add a substantial new property tax. Mukilteo has analyzed prior attempts to bring its service into other RFAs and each time learned it would cost Mukilteo taxpayers a lot more money without any significant improvement in service. And it would result in Mukilteo giving all its fire assets to the new RFA and essentially give up control over our fire and EMS service.
You should not enter into this requested attempt by Everett to shift their financial problems over to Mukilteo taxpayers. Our fire and EMS service is very good and operates under our control.