Fire commissioners approve putting levy proposal on August ballots


North Whatcom Fire and Rescue (NWFR) Board of Fire Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to put a levy lid lift proposal on August primary ballots.  

The levy proposal would increase the levy rate $0.34 per $1,000 of assessed property value, from $0.76 to $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This would cost the owner of a $500,000 home about $14.16 more per month, or $170 more annually, according to the fire district. The levy lid lift would expire after six years.

Commissioners approved the resolution in a 4-0 vote, with commissioner Scott Fischer absent, during their March 21 meeting at the Blaine station on Odell Road. The vote followed a public hearing March 6 and an additional information session March 7. In total, four out of the district’s approximate 33,800 voters attended those meetings, board chair Bruce Ansell said during the March 21 meeting. 

The fire district, which covers 156 square miles from Blaine and Birch Bay to Laurel, received its last levy increase nearly 20 years ago. 

District officials have said they are in a dire situation and need to collect more taxes as expenses climb in order to avoid reduced service levels. NWFR call volumes have nearly doubled the past 10 years, with overlapping calls occurring 30 percent of the time, according to the district.

Slightly over half of the district’s budget relies on tax revenue, which equals about $6.9 million in 2024, according to previous reporting from The Northern Light

The commission voiced concern about minimal public participation regarding the proposal as they hope for a different outcome than the district’s last levy increase proposals in August and November 2021, which were rejected by 52.8 percent and 60.2 percent, respectively. 

NWFR commissioners said they will start scheduling meetings to inform the public on the levy proposal. Fire district staff and commissioners will also begin looking for district voters willing to write statements either for or against the measure on August 6 ballots. 


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