KING COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT 27

PROPOSITION NO. 1 - PROPOSED MERGER INTO KING COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT 10 WILL BE ON THE BALLOT AT THE APRIL 23, 2019 SPECIAL ELECTION


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A Message from the Fall City Fire Department. (Updated March 15, 2019)         

On January 22, 2019, the Board of Commissioners for King County Fire District 27 (Fall City) adopted a resolution for a special election to decide whether Fire District 27 will merge with neighboring Fire District 10. If the measure is approved by voters, services would be provided by Eastside Fire and Rescue.
(See Area Map)  After several years of evaluation, the Board has determined that the option to merge with Fire District 10 should be presented to the voters in a special election to be held on April 23, 2019. The option to merge was not unanimous with the three-person Board of Commissioners.

HISTORY

Recent discussion of consolidation with Eastside Fire and Rescue dates to February 2008, following an independent consultant study released in January 2008 suggesting consolidation with Eastside Fire as the preferred option. At that time no action was taken because the financial issues presented too many challenges. The District simply did not / would not, have the revenue to support consolidation.

In October 2009 the District participated on a planning committee to form a Regional Fire Authority (RFA). The planning committee included multiple fire agencies, including most members of Eastside Fire and Rescue. After a lengthy process, the agencies disbanded largely due to the inability to resolve financial issues and inequities.

In July of 2017, discussions began directly with Fire District 10, a member of Eastside Fire and Rescue. Initial financial information revealed that a merger of Fire District 10 and Fire District 27 might result in an overall cost decrease to the residents of Fire District 27.

The Board of Commissioners created a “Consolidation Exploration Committee” comprised of one District 27 Commissioner, the Fire Chief, one District 27 Labor representative, one District 27 Volunteer representative, and four citizens of the District. This group met on numerous occasions for many hours to examine all possible options available to the District. The Committee was not unanimous in endorsing a single option to consider, however identified four potential options. Preliminary cost information was developed for each of the options and some discussions with other entities occurred.

The Board of Commissioners has determined that the option to merge with Fire District 10 should be offered to the voters and has submitted this proposal for a special election to be held on April 23, 2019.

MERGER FACTS AND ESTIMATED IMPACTS
The merger proposal would immediately increase the minimum number of career firefighters on duty in Fall City to 3 persons at all times. This is the same level that exists throughout Eastside Fire and Rescue today.

Revenues collected by District 10 are based in part on a Fire Benefit Charge (FBC). The FBC is a more flexible way for the Board of Commissioners to adjust for short term changes in financial obligations. (FBC is explained in greater detail below) The renewal of this authority by voters is requested every six years, allowing for longer term planning.

As a result of the change to the FBC financing method, it is estimated that a majority of residential properties will see a reduction in the overall amount paid for fire services based on a 2019 comparison. It is also estimated that the FBC will increase the relative amount paid by most Commercial businesses and Multifamily properties over the current AV-based levies in District 27. Over a million dollars of cost could potentially be avoided in equipment and apparatus replacement over the next decade.

Training of personnel would increase in both quantity and quality. A dedicated professional training staff would be utilized to prepare, manage, deliver and monitor training. A larger agency approach would allow on-duty training to occur while minimizing any effects on emergency service provision.
Policies and procedures would be modernized and implemented. Administrative specialists in human resources, finance and planning would be utilized.

The merger proposal will ensure that all full-time Fall City personnel are transferred over to Eastside Fire and Rescue on the effective date of the merger.

The existing Fire Commissioners (District 27=3, District 10=5) for both Districts would merge initially and serve on the D10 board. The number of Fire Commissioners for D10 will gradually be reduced over time from 8 at the time of merger, to the final number of 5, in accordance with State Law.

The merger is an irreversible decision. District 27 would cease to exist as a separate entity and the boundaries of Fire District 10 would be expanded to include all areas now served by District 27. District 27 consists of 3,812 registered voters, District 10 consists of 15,133 registered voters. Direct representation would be diluted, as commissioners will be elected at large from the entire merged district.

There is a perception of loss by some members of the Community that occurs with the elimination of District 27. The current Fire Chief and Administrative Assistant would no longer work full time at the Fire District 27 station. Management of the merged district would occur from the current D10/EFR headquarters in Issaquah, and the Fire Chief and Administrative personnel could be available in Fall City by appointment.

The Volunteer program as it currently exists will change, over time, and the use of Volunteer personnel will be different. These changes are not known, and changes could also occur in the stand-alone District 27 program in the future.

The FBC allows the Commissioners to make short term adjustments and increases to the overall amount collected in excess of the 1% annual increase limitation on regular fire district levies and can be increased up to 60% of District revenue. The renewal of this authority is only presented to voters every six years.

FUTURE STATUS OF FALL CITY FIRE STATION
The Fire Station in Fall City is not planned for closure as a result of this merger. The Fall City Fire Station is located in an ideal spot to provide service in a number of directions and is well centered in its respective service area.

FINANCES

District 27 has a demonstrated history of being very conservative and frugal.

For many years the District has relied on collection of a regular tax levy. Regular levies are limited annually to a 1% overall increase in addition to revenue resulting from new construction. Most costs including labor typically rise more than 1% annually.

In 2013 at the general election the Fire District submitted a three-year excess levy proposal to the voters for approval. The excess levy added authority to collect $400,000 each year to existing taxes to continue necessary operations.

In 2016 at the general election the Fire District submitted a four-year excess levy proposal to the voters for approval. This excess levy added authority to collect $475,000 each year to the existing regular levy to continue operations. This levy is authorized through 2020.

The District has been relying on obtaining 60% voter approval of these excess levies to continue normal operations. The merger would eliminate the need to collect funds from an excess levy and would shift the funding mechanism to a Fire Benefit Charge (FBC).

FIRE BENEFIT CHARGE
District 10 currently utilizes a Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) to fund district operations. The FBC mechanism has two components: a base levy of $1.00/$1,000 of Assessed Value (AV) of a property plus an FBC fee based on the improvements to a property. This is different than the basis of current District 27 tax collection, which is entirely AV-based levies. Currently, District 27 has two levies: a base levy maximum of $1.50/$1,000 of AV plus a special levy that collects a total of $475,000 each year (through 2020) and is applied equally to each property based on AV.

If the merger is approved, future funds as part of District 10 will be collected using the FBC mechanism. The base levy would change from a maximum of $1.50/$1,000 of AV to a maximum of $1.00/$1,000 of AV. Then the FBC fee is calculated based on the improvements on a property, primarily the square footage, use and fire risk of structures on the property. Properties that have no improvements do not pay a FBC, only the base levy. The combined base levy plus the FBC under District 10 would replace the two levies currently collected by District 27. Under the FBC mechanism, two properties with equal AV would pay different amounts if the size or use of any structures are different.

A comparative report which depicts the estimated 2019 overall amount paid with or without a merger, by address or parcel is posted online on the District 27 website, or residents are encouraged to call (425) 222-5841 for assistance in determining your respective increase or decrease. CLICK HERE to see a comparison. The comparative report was prepared using parcel information that was obtained from the King County Assessor’s Office during the first week of November 2018 and uses an estimated tax rate and an estimated benefit charge. The actual tax rate and benefit charge that will be used to calculate the actual impacts will not be established until the budgeting process is completed in November 2019 and are dependent on the amount of the benefit charge. Using newer tax parcel or rate information for comparison may change the FBC relationship and accuracy of the estimate. The comparative report does not include the amount collected for the District 27 General Obligation Bond (GO Bond), which is unaffected and not subject to change as a result of the proposed merger.

COST COMPARISON

The cost of fire services to current District 27 residents is based on the estimated funds collected from the parcels in the current District 27 service area to support each option in 2019. This is an estimate based on the current District 27 levies, and the base levy and FBC fees that would be collected under a merged District 10 and District 27 entity.

Stand Alone District 27 Funds Collected (2019): $2,241,500  1

Merged D27/D10 Funds Collected in Current D27 (2019): $2,008,733  2

Difference: $232,767

If you have additional questions regarding this information or the ballot measure, please contact Chief Connor at District 27.

Sincerely,
King County Fire Protection District 27 Commissioners


Stand Alone District 27 Funds Collected (2019): Revenue amount is from the District 27 adopted budget.
Merged D27/D10 Funds Collected in Current D27 (2019): Revenue amount is from the January 8, 2019 document provided by Eastside Fire & Rescue.

 

 

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 PROPOSITION 1 - APRIL 23, 2019 ELECTION