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Voters approving change to make fire benefit fee permanent

Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority measure

Voters are heavily supporting the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority Proposition No. 1 to make the fire benefit charge permanent rather than voting to approve the fee every six years.

The measure had 72.67% (7,811 votes) in favor and 27.3% (2,937 votes) against it in King County Election returns Tuesday night.

Puget Sound Fire is funded through property taxes ($1 per $1,000 assessed valuation) and up to 60% by a fire benefit charge, which is based on an industry accepted formula that takes into consideration fire flows, the square footage of structures, the type of structures and various risk factors. By state law, a fire benefit charge cannot exceed 60 percent of the operating budget.

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.

Voters in 2010 approved the formation of the regional fire authority and funding the agency through a property tax levy and a new fire benefit charge. Previously, Kent funded its fire department through the city’s general fund. Voters approved in 2016 an extension of the fire benefit charge for six more years.

State law required voters to approve the fire benefit charge every six years but the Legislature changed the law to allow regional fire authorities to seek voter approval of a permanent fire benefit charge.


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