The count of ballots through May 4 shows voters in Kent, King County Fire District 37 and Covington are overwhelming approving Proposition No. 1 to form a regional fire authority that would merge the Kent Fire Department and Fire District 37.
Through May 4, Proposition No. 1 had received 12,373 (72.26 percent) yes votes and 4,749 (27.74 percent) no votes, according to King County Elections officials. Ballots had to be postmarked by April 27 to count in the election.
A total of 17,134 voters mailed in ballots as of May 4. That number is 27.80 percent of the 61,640 registered voters.
King County Elections officials will certify results of the April 27 ballot measure on May 12.
Kent Fire Chief Jim Schneider and fire officials proposed the new regional fire authority in order to levy a property tax as well a new fire-benefit charge. Schneider said the fire departments need the new funding mechanism simply to keep the same level of service currently provided.
The measure required a 60 percent supermajority approval rate because of the new fire-benefit fee that would be added to the tax picture. The regional fire authority starts July 1. Funding for the remainder of 2010 would still come from the city and fire district budgets.