Prop 1: Fire Levy Lid Lift

Prop 1: Fire Levy Lid Lift   |   April 2024 Special Election


It’s official! The 2024 Special Election results are certified, and #Proposition1 passed!

Restoring the fire levy will help ensure East Pierce Fire & Rescue continues to deliver a rapid response with the right amount of firefighters and the right equipment. Thank you, voters, for your support. We are honored and humbled to serve you.

What is Proposition 1?

Proposition 1 asks voters to restore EPFR’s fire levy to its original rate of $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed value (AV).

Due to the 1% levy limitations, inflation, and the growth of our community, EPFR’s operational expenses are outpacing revenues. Additionally, heightened demand has impacted your emergency response, potentially delaying lifesaving medical treatment and emergency transport.

Proposition 1 will ensure EPFR can:

  1. Improve your emergency response capabilities by ensuring funding for two additional response units to be put in service in 2024 and staffing two additional fire stations in 2024 and 2025.
  2. Continue strengthening our commitment to the community by ensuring your service levels keep pace with your current and growing needs.
  3. Retain your dedicated firefighters, especially when a temporary federal grant supporting 12 of them expires in 2026.
  4. Ensure stable funding to address the challenges of increasing expenses driven by inflation.

If rejected, your fire and emergency services face a projected revenue shortfall. This scenario could require us to either consider another attempt at voter approval for restoring the fire levy increase or consider reductions in services and staffing.

A simple majority of yes votes is required to pass Proposition 1.

Who is East Pierce Fire & Rescue?

East Pierce Fire & Rescue (EPFR) proudly serves a growing population of over 100,000 residents from areas including Bonney Lake, Sumner, Lake Tapps, the Ridge Communities, South Prairie, Tehaleh, Edgewood, Milton, and a large portion of unincorporated Pierce County. Established in 2000 and spanning approximately 153 square miles from Interstate 5 to the base of Mount Rainier National Park, our mission has always been to provide you with compassionate service and rapid response to the community’s diverse needs. We are proud to serve you!

East Pierce Fire & Rescue is an “All-Hazards” organization with emergency responses to fires, motor vehicle accidents, and medical emergencies. Your full-time firefighters provide Emergency Medical Services trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics.

Your firefighters also respond to hazardous materials incidents, water rescues, wildland fires, and technical rescue incidents such as confined space rescues, trench rescues, rope rescues, and building collapses.

How is East Pierce Fire & Rescue funded?

Funding comes from voter-approved revenues, grants, and service fees. In 2024, the three voter-approved funding sources—all property taxes—are:

  • a fire levy, which provides about 60% of revenue.
  • an emergency medical services (EMS) levy, which provides about 12% of our revenue; and
  • a Facilities & Equipment bond levy that accounts for just under 10% of revenue. This levy is dedicated to repaying bonds used to replace four fire stations, construct a new station, and acquire seven fire trucks.

The Fire Levy and EMS Levies support the day-to-day operations: firefighter/EMT and paramedic salaries, equipment, fuel, utilities, and administrative support.

The remaining 18% of revenue comes from fees for services such as permits, insurance reimbursements, and a federal grant used to pay some firefighter salaries that unfortunately expires in 2026.

Didn't voters recently pass a ballot measure for East Pierce Fire & Rescue?

The last voter-approved funding measures were approved by the community in 2018 and 2021.

In 2018, thanks to community support, a Facilities and Equipment bond was approved for necessary improvements to facilities and to replace four older, outgrown fire stations. That Bond passage also approved the necessary purchase of replacement fire response vehicles, including a ladder truck and multiple new fire engines. The revenue from that bond cannot be used for daily operating expenses under state law. For day-to-day expenses, your services depend on the fire and EMS levies.

In 2021, voters renewed the EMS Levy. This crucial levy funds East Pierce Fire & Rescue’s medical programs, ensuring all personnel are trained as either EMTs or paramedics. This levy also funds emergency medical transport to regional hospitals with no out-of-pocket expenses to district residents.

Proposition 1 only affects the fire levy. Restoring the levy to its original rate will allow EPFR to maintain the needed emergency service levels for several years.

How does the fire levy work? How are the taxes collected?

In Washington State, local governments rely on property taxes for funding to pay for your services, and EPFR is no exception.

Property taxes in Pierce County are calculated based on a property’s Assessed Value (AV) determined by the Pierce County Assessor. The County sets a levy rate, which is a dollar amount for every $1,000 of AV. Each year, your taxes get divided among local entities like cities, police, schools, and fire districts such as EPFR.

About EPFR’s fire levy:

  • If approved, these funds would be used to maintain current services and improve upon services to keep pace with increased demands.
  • Proposition 1 asks voters to restore the levy rate back to the original rate approved in 2017.
  • The overall cost to deliver services has increased due to rising operational costs.
  • The levy rate has gradually decreased to $1.09 per $1,000 AV as of 2024.
  • In 2017, voters approved the rate to be set at $1.50 per $1,000 AV (for 2018).

Why does the fire levy rate decrease over time?

State law caps annual increases in total property tax collection to just 1% more than the previous year. As property values have risen in recent years, your fire levy rate has fallen to fit this rule.

While voters last approved a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 AV in 2017, it’s now at $1.09 in 2024. This rate hasn’t kept pace with inflation and EPFR’s costs to support our growing community.

How will property owners be affected if Proposition 1 is approved?

If approved, the fire levy rate will be restored to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, which would be an increase of $3.41 per month for every $100,000 of assessed value.

The cost increase to the average East Pierce homeowner with a home value at $538,974 would be:

  • $18.41 per month
  • $220.98 per year

If you would like to know what your specific property would cost, please email or call (253) 863-1800.

Will property tax discounts still be available for low-income seniors and disabled property owners?

Yes. Those who qualify for property tax discounts (under RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389) will continue to be eligible for those discounts under this measure.

More Questions about Proposition 1?

Thanks for reviewing our webpage. For more information, please email or call (253) 863-1800.


Did You Know? Proposition 1: Fire Levy

Did You Know? Governance of East Pierce Fire & Rescue

Did You Know? How is East Pierce Fire & Rescue Funded?

Did You Know? Overview of All East Pierce Fire & Rescue’s Services

Did You Know? East Pierce Fire & Rescue’s Emergency Medical Services

Did You Know? Staffing Goals of East Pierce Fire & Rescue

Did You Know? Fiscal Responsibility

5 Key Facts About Proposition 1