Puget Sound Fire seeks higher property taxes in return for lower fire benefit charges

Measure on Aug. 6 primary ballot in Kent, Covington

  • Friday, July 19, 2019 12:00pm
  • News

The Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority has a property tax increase measure on the Aug. 6 primary ballot to maintain and adequately fund operations and reduce fire benefit charges.

Fifty-seven percent of voters in Kent and Covington rejected a similar measure in April 2018. This year’s measure would allow Puget Sound Fire to restore its property tax levy to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That rate has dropped each year because of the state’s 1 percent limit on property tax increases and the jumps in property values over the last eight years. This year’s rate is 71 cents per $1,000.

Puget Sound Fire makes up the shortfall by raising the fire benefit charge on properties. The fire benefit charge is a variable rate fee based on the square footage and the amount of resources needed to provide emergency services to each house or business. With the fire benefit charge, the owner of a large house or business pays a higher fee than the owner of a small home or business.

But the catch for fire officials is the state limits fire benefit charges to paying for no more than 60 percent of the operations budget. Puget Sound Fire has hit the 51 percent mark this year on its $51 million budget.

The Puget Sound RFA Governance Board, composed of three Kent City Council members and three Fire District 37 commissioners, oversees operations and voted to send the measure to voters.

For more details about the measure, click the Related story link on this page.

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