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Fire District 17 in Sandy Point seeks new station amid flooding woes

Levy increase will be on April 23 ballot

Sandy Point in November 2022. Proponents of a levy say Fire District 17, which serves the area, is in need of a new station after the current building flooded twice in December 2022. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Ralph Schwartz Local Government Reporter

Whatcom County’s smallest fire district has a big problem, the chair of the campaign committee for Fire District 17’s levy said.

Twice in 2022 — on Jan. 7 and Dec. 27 — coastal flooding inundated the district’s only fire station, causing more than $750,000 in damage and hampering emergency response for months in Sandy Point and Neptune Beach.

The district, on the northwest corner of Lummi Reservation, has a ready solution, campaign chair Jeanne Carroll said. The Phillips 66 refinery, the district’s immediate neighbor to the north, donated a plot of land on higher ground for a new station. This month, the district is asking its 1,200 registered voters to approve a property tax increase to build the new station.

“At its current site, it’s very vulnerable,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to relocate this station. We absolutely have to.”

Three feet of saltwater and raw sewage flood the inside of Fire District 17’s station in December 2022. (Photo courtesy of Whatcom County Fire District 17)
Coastal floodwaters reached the Fire District 17 station in December 2022. (Photo courtesy of Whatcom County Fire District 17)

The measure appearing on a special April 23 ballot asks for a levy rate of $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Ballots will be mailed Wednesday, April 3.

Voters in Fire District 17 approved a $1.45 per $1,000 rate in 2015, but as property values increased, that rate has shrunk to 70 cents in 2024

If voters approve the new rate, then in 2025 the annual tax for fire response and emergency medical service on a $580,000 home, which is roughly Whatcom County’s median home value, would increase by $319.

The additional funds also would go toward increasing the district’s paid staff. Currently, District 17 has a paid chief and assistant chief, and 12 volunteers, Carroll said.

More paid staff are needed, she said, to keep pace with rising call volumes in the district and to respond to a nationwide decline in fire volunteers. Call volume has increased 103% since the 2015 levy passed, according to a fire district fact sheet.


To learn more about the Fire District 17 levy, email levy17info@yahoo.com.

Ralph Schwartz is CDN’s local government reporter; reach him at ralphschwartz@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 107.

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