Note: The online version of the story referenced below was
changed to reflect the correct current rate for South Kitsap Fire
and Rescue’s EMS levy (30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property
value) and the 2007 rate for the district’s fire levy ($1.17 per
$1,000). A correction will run in the paper.
Also, I said the fire levy was a six-year levy. To clarify: the
district ran and passed a temporary fire levy in 2006 for the
maximum time of six years. The regular fire levy is permanent, and
the district has both. The total levy rate for both is 98 cents per
$1,000 of assessed value.
******* OK Here’s the post:
In comments following a story
I wrote Sept. 9 on the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue EMS levy,
readers expressed concern about the tax implications when/if SKFR
merges with the Bremerton Fire Department and Central Kitsap Fire
and Rescue. I asked SKFR Chief Wayne Senter what he knows. Here’s
what he said:
“It is too early in the planning process to predict what funding
mechanisms will be used to fund the expenses of the proposed West
Sound Fire Authority. All of the funding mechanisms available to a
fire district are available to the regional fire authority. We are
currently determining what the expenses for the WSFR would be, once
that is done, the options for funding will be determined.
Regardless of what the planning process produces, voters will
determine if the authority is formed and funded through an election
involving all three fire service areas.”
Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, in an earlier post on this blog, also said it was to
early too give definitive answers. He did have more information on
funding options for RFAs.
“There is a lot of flexibility in how such an organization can
be organized. Under a full RFA there would be only one governing
body and the same levy rate would be charged to all property owners
within the combined taxing district. This would be difficult to get
started, as the CK ($1.26) and SK ($.98) levy rates are a ways
apart. I think the two RFAs currently existing in the state are
modified RFAs where the existing governing bodies (fire commissions
and/or city council) continue while the existing levies continue in
each of the districts. What is hopefully gained is a closer working
relationship with more inter-local agreements to share protection
areas and operational efficiencies.
I think it is very early to know what is going to happen at this
point between the City of Bremerton, SKFR and CKFR. Anything that
does happen, however must ultimately be authorized by the voters.
Feel free to call if you still have questions.
In the same blog post, we heard from Mark Horaski of Valley
Regional Fire Authority, formed in 2007 from the merger of the
Algona, Pacific, Auburn fire departments. Notice he says,”Some of
our cities experienced higher increases than the average due to
differences in the original city levy rates and fire services that
were being provided.”
“The Valley Regional Fire Authority was officially formed on
January 1, 2007, the result of a proposition approved by the voters
during the November 2006 election. The agreed upon taxing structure
was that 2007 would see each participating city (Algona, Auburn and
Pacific) continue to levy their regular property tax rates and
transfer funds to the VRFA for its operations. Starting in 2008,
the VRFA has levied its own property tax, which is comprised of the
1. A property tax levy; and
2. A fire benefit service charge.
Note that this funding mechanism was also approved by the voters in
November 2006. The fire benefit service charge must be renewed by
the voters every six years, and in exchange for the ability to levy
it, the maximum property tax rate that the VRFA can levy is $1.00
per $1,000 of assessed value (versus $1.50 per $1,000 of AV for a
non-FBC funding model).
It is important to emphasize that each of the participating cities
reduced its own 2008 property tax levy rate to reflect the fact
that they were no longer providing fire services to their
During the original vote on the proposition, it was outlined to
taxpayers that the average citizen would not see an increase in the
cost of funding fire operations of approximately $60 per year. We
were pleased to keep this increase to approximately $38 for
You are correct that some of our cities experienced higher
increases than the average due to differences in the original city
levy rates and fire services that were being provided. This was
discussed during the vote on the VRFA establishment however, and it
was outlined that some citizens would be paying more for fire
service under the VRFA model.
However, in exchange for a higher rate, they would receive:
1. A full time 24/7/365 professional firefighter staffed station
(one VRFA city was previously staffed with a combination of
professional firefighters and reserves, and did not provide
24/7/365 service); and
2. Full three person engine crews for our entire service area (this
increases fire fighter safety, and provides additional response
capabilities while on a call–one VRFA city previously ran with 2
person engine crews).
Finally, it was noted that the service contract that one city had
with another for the provision of fire services did not reflect the
cost of providing service to that city–as a result, that city’s
contract rate would have gone up significantly at the next renewal.
The VRFA formation took care of this situation.