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North Whatcom Fire and Rescue to host meetings detailing need for tax increase

Call volumes have doubled in a decade, and EMS calls have increased by 50 percent

A visual map of the different sections for Fire district 21 and 4.
Fire District 21 is asking for a levy lid lift of 34 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value. The district serves Lynden, Blaine, Custer, Laurel, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo, and also serves Whatcom County Fire District 4. (Jaya Flanary/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

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North Whatcom Fire and Rescue will host public meetings July 17 to July 27 to inform voters about an August ballot measure to increase the district’s tax rate.

The district, referred to as Fire District 21 on the ballot, is asking for a levy lid lift of 34 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, bringing the district’s tax rate up to $1.10 per $1,000 in assessed property value if approved. The lid lift would cost the owner of a $500,000 home an additional $14.16 per month or $170 per year. 

The district said the extra funds are necessary to fund eight emergency personnel over six years, as well as replace Station 63 in Birch Bay, a response unit for medical emergencies, a ladder truck and three fire engines. The district serves Lynden, Blaine, Custer, Laurel, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo, and also serves Whatcom County Fire District 4.

Fire Chief Jason Van der Veen will host four public meetings:

  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 at the Blaine Senior Center, 763 G St., Blaine
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24 at Station 61, 9408 Odell Road, Blaine
  • 5 p.m. Thursday, July 25 at Station 63, 4581 Birch Bay Lynden Road, Blaine
  • 9 a.m. Saturday, July 27 at Laurel Grange, 6172 Guide Meridian Road, Lynden

The district said in a news release that call volumes have doubled in the last decade, and EMS calls have increased by 50%.

“At least 30 percent of the time, there are multiple emergencies happening all at once,” Fire Chief Van der Veen said in the release. “We aren’t staffed to respond to multiple overlapping calls. The result is longer response times when minutes count.”

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

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