Kenmore and Lake Forest Park voters will decide on Feb. 12 if a benefit charge used to fund emergency services provided by the Northshore Fire Department will continue.
For the last 30 years, the department has funded fire protection and emergency services through use of collected property taxes and this voter-approved benefit charge. Benefit charges, unlike property taxes, are based on risk factors and what it costs to provide homes first protection.
Washington law dictates that this charge be approved by voters every six years, and the department’s board of commissioners is required to hold a public hearing to review and reestablish charge amounts.
This amount is prorated to individual properties, based on their risk factors, and collected by the county assessor, along with real estate taxes. Any benefit charge imposed on a property cannot exceed measurable benefits of the services provided by the fire department, according to the explanatory statement on Proposition 1.
Fire districts, which collect benefit charges authorized under Chapter 52.18 RCW have reduced taxing authority, the statement continues. And benefit charges can constitute no more than 60 percent of a district’s annual operating budget. The maximum property tax rate is reduced from $1.50 to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
If approved, Proposition 1 would continue the current funding method of providing emergency medical and fire protection services for six more years.