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Vashon Island Fire and Rescue

Proposition No. 1
Property Tax Levy for Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services

The Board of Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (also known as King County Fire Protection District No. 13) adopted Resolution No. 23-414 concerning a proposition to maintain and adequately fund District operations. For the purpose of maintaining current levels of fire and emergency medical services, Proposition No. 1 would restore the District’s regular property tax levy to the previous voter-approved rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for collection in 2024 and set the limit factor at 6% for each of the succeeding five years. The maximum allowable levy in 2029 shall serve as the base for subsequent levy limitations as provided by Chapter 84.55 RCW.

Should this proposition be:



Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (“District”), serving the citizens of Vashon and Maury Islands, is placing a multi-year lid lift proposition on the August 1, 2023 Primary ballot. The district responded to the community’s requests for emergency medical care, fire suppression, rescue, and other emergencies, 1,629 times in 2022. This is a 9% increase in calls for service since 2017. However, while firefighters are responding to more calls, the $1.50 regular levy rate previously approved by voters is projected to fall to $1.24 in 2024 due to statutory limitations.


This lid-lift proposition is presented to allow voters to override the 1% growth limitation imposed by Initiative 747. If the lid lift does not pass, the total property tax revenue of the District would be limited to 101% of the Authority’s previous year’s revenue, even though District voters approved the $1.50 per $1,000 limit in 2017. 


If this proposition passes, a taxpayer with the average home value of $600,000 would anticipate an increased tax of $18.60 per month. 


If approved, this measure authorizes District to restore the levy rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value as approved by voters. This would allow the levy dollar amount to increase by up to 6% in the succeeding five years, but the rate cannot exceed $1.50 even if properties increase in value. The dollar amount of the levy in 2029 would be used to calculate future levy increase limits.

Every six years we make a decision about funding operations and maintenance at Vashon Island Fire & Rescue, just like our parks and school districts. This year we can choose to improve our 911 ambulance and fire emergency service or we can let emergency services degrade through neglect.

The levy lift doubles the first responders on duty to answer your 911 call for an ambulance or a house fire. Newly hired first responders from the levy lift will be housed at the currently unstaffed Burton firehouse, cutting 911 response time in half for most of south Vashon and Maury. Those golden minutes give responders the best chance to save a life or knock down a fire. The levy will prevent fire insurance increases of 30% to 100% for hundreds of island households -- more than covering the cost of the levy restoration. About four times a week, all available first responders are dispatched on simultaneous 911 calls. That’s dangerous. Passing the levy means more responders, ready to save your house or your life when you call for help.

Remember, VIFR is our island's only 24-hour medical response. We ask you to join us and Vote Yes for a Safer Vashon.

Statement submitted by: Ron Smothermon, James Bristow, Gary English,

The survey results in the VIFR Strategic Plan found 77% of islanders who had received/witnessed services during the past 5 years rated the service excellent. The survey indicated 78% of islanders believe a response time of 5-15 minutes after a 911 call is appropriate, and 92% of Vashon firefighters/EMTs agreed. Since the average response time on the island is 7 minutes, expectations have been met/exceeded! Please note, this survey was conducted before the firefighters’ staffing was increased by 56% .


VIFR has plenty of money to continue to deliver superior service. In just 6 years, the levy has grown from $2.4 million to $5.4 million. As a result, reserve accounts have ballooned from $1.9 million in 2017 to $5.9 million in March 2023. After increasing salaries and benefits by $800,000 in the current budget, there still will be an additional $700,000 available for future salary increases, capital expenditures and the reserves, with financing available for vehicles, if needed.


The 7 new firefighters/EMTs starting before the vote, will make it possible to staff 2 firefighters/EMTs in Burton immediately, thereby keeping homeowners insurance low and improving south end response time, with no new taxes.


No levy lift is needed to remain safe!


Statement submitted by: Scott Harvey,

It’s no surprise that islanders love our VIFR emergency responders. The challenge is getting those firefighter/EMTs to emergencies in sufficient numbers to save lives and homes. The levy will modernize the oldest fire engine fleet in the county, provide much-needed additional emergency responders to staff Burton and lower response times.


Saying yes to Proposition 1 makes our investment in a sustainable future for our island’s only 24-hour medical service. Get additional accurate information at


Statement submitted by: Ron Smothermon, James Bristow, Gary English,

If you call 911 for a life-threatening emergency, 24 hours/day, the paramedics of Medic One, funded by a separate levy, provide your primary care, not VIFR.


While medicals calls have remained constant, and actually were 14% higher in 2016 than 2022, VIFR levy taxes have increased by 125% and the proposed levy will add another 70%! With millions in the bank and 56% more staff, there is no chance our services will “degrade through neglect”.


Statement submitted by: Scott Harvey,

Simple majority (RCW 84.55.050)

For questions about this measure, contact: Matthew Vinci, Fire Chief, (206) 463-2405,

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