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Updated special election results: Fire District 17 levy down by one vote

All three Skagit County ballot measures poised to pass

Bright pink ballots placed on top of each other.
Two ballot measures in Whatcom and Skagit counties are too close to call after initial election results Tuesday night, April 23. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

This election reporting is provided free to all readers as a public service by your locally owned Cascadia Daily News. Thanks for supporting truly local news by donating to CDN or subscribing here.

All three Skagit County ballot measures appear poised to pass in April’s special election, while Whatcom’s lone proposition is failing by one vote as of Friday afternoon.

The resolution to increase Fire District 17’s tax levy currently has 256 votes in favor and 257 votes against. The district in Sandy Point put the increase to voters to build a new, relocated station, which was damaged twice by floods in 2022. As of Friday afternoon, 49.9% percent of voters in the district voted in favor of the $1.25 per $1,000 in assessed property value levy, with a difference of just eight votes. 

Chief Deputy Auditor Amy Grasher said Monday that they currently have no more ballots left to count, but could still receive more in the mail. However, three ballots have been rejected and those citizens have until Thursday to cure their ballot to get their vote counted.

Campaign chair Jeanne Carroll said Monday morning that it’s clear the campaign “simply did not get information out effectively to the district.”

“So here we are, down by one vote, which is of course heartbreaking,” Carroll said.

If the cured ballots don’t tip the election in the district’s favor, Carroll said they will be placing the levy on the August ballot. Carroll said the levy is critical to maintaining fire and emergency services in the district.

“We came within inches of flooding out again this January,” she said, adding that she expects it will happen again with the changing climate.

If there’s a tie, the ballot measure wouldn’t pass, Grasher said, as it needs 50% plus one to pass.


Coastal floodwaters reached the Fire District 17 station in December 2022. (Photo courtesy of Whatcom County Fire District 17)

In Skagit County, three ballot measures to renew the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy, to replace the Mount Vernon School District safety and technology capital projects levy, and to increase the levy for Fire District 9 are all passing as of Thursday afternoon.

Mount Vernon’s levy was just barely passing Tuesday night, with 50.42% of votes in favor. A similar levy failed in the February election by just six votes. By Thursday afternoon, 51.01% of ballots counted were in favor of the levy.

Mount Vernon School Board President Larry Otos said Thursday afternoon that votes are trending in favor of the district. “We should be in really good shape,” he said.

“The local levy is critical for us and for any school district really,” Otos said. “We’re still in a budget crunch, but this will help maintain our safety and security not only in equipment but in personnel as well.”

Otos said he appreciates the community for “stepping up” and voting for the levy.

“Nobody likes property taxes, but it’s a necessary evil unfortunately for us to sustain our programs and staffing at Mount Vernon,” he said.

The replacement levy would begin taxing residents at 95.7 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value in 2025, and decrease to 85.5 cents per $1,000 in 2026, to 76.3 cents per $1,000 in 2027, and 68.1 cents per $1,000 in 2028. Funds will go to fund safety and security systems and technology systems. 

The EMS levy renewal will pass easily, with 70.82% of votes in favor as of Thursday afternoon. The proposition will tax Skagit County residents 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The funds will go towards EMT positions, training, fuel, ambulance maintenance, medical supplies and more. 

The ballot measure to increase the Fire District 9 levy will also likely pass with 64.34% percent of the voters in favor as of Thursday afternoon. A proposal to up the levy rate in 2022 fell short of passing by 50 votes.

The proposition asks for voter approval to increase the levy by 19 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, for a tax rate of 57.9 cents per $1,000 starting in 2025.   

A total of 27,254 ballots have been counted in Skagit County as of Thursday afternoon with an estimated 250 left to count. In Whatcom, 465 have been counted with an estimated 48 left to count. In Skagit County, the next ballot count will be at 5 p.m. Monday, April 29, while Whatcom County’s next count will be at 5 p.m., Thursday, May 2.

A previous version of this story misstated the potential outcome of a tie in the Fire District 17 race. This story was updated to reflect this change on Monday, April 29 at 11:15 a.m. Cascadia Daily News regrets the error.

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at charlottealden@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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