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Proposition 1

King County Fire Protection District 27 - Fall City is seeking voter approval for a levy lid lift at the November 7, 2023, general election. The Fire District Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to submit to the voters of the District, Proposition 1 - Property Tax Levy for Fire Protection and Emergency Services.

Approval of Proposition 1 would authorize a levy lid lift up to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation (AV) and establish a limit factor based on the greater of 3% (three percent) or the annual CPI-U for Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue as reported in June of each year. The levy lid lift would be limited to six years.

The last time the Fire District asked voters to restore the regular levy rate was in 2004, the levy rate was at $1.00 per $1,000 of AV and the voters approved an increase to $1.40 per $1,000 of AV.

The District's regular levy rate is currently at $0.78 per $1,000 of AV.

HOW IS THE FIRE DISTRICT FUNDED?

The District's primary source of funding is from its property tax levies. The District also receives revenues from King County EMS, service fees, grants, wildland mobilizations, investment income and donations. The Board of Commissioners has continued to look for other funding sources such as our wildland equipment mobilization, which is a fairly new revenue source for the District and will vary from year to year. 

District Revenues Table_edited_edited_ed

* If Proposition 1 is approved the 2024 tax levy rate would be $1.50. A decrease of 12.5% in the District’s total AV was included in the calculations as provided by the King County Assessor’s Office. These projections are estimates based on the current information available.


WHY A LEVY LID LIFT?
 

A levy lid lift up to $1.50 will provide the funds needed to maintain the District’s current operations, provide for a day shift Officer position, continue to improve training for the safety of our firefighters, support our special operations; swift water rescue, technical rescue, and wildland firefighting, and provide for capital equipment replacement and facility maintenance.

The cost of operating a fire department that provides fire prevention, fire protection and emergency medical services has increased because of the specialized equipment, personnel, training and supplies now required by state and federal regulations.

The Board of Fire Commissioners also evaluated the Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) as a potential funding source, however because our local area does not have large corporate commercial centers and most of the businesses in Fall City are smaller, the impact of the FBC may have been burdensome to those businesses.

 

MAINTENANCE & OPERATIONS (M&O) LEVY HISTORY:
 

2014-2016 – Three-year M&O Levy Approved for $425,000 each year.

2017-2020 – Four-year M&O Levy Approved for $475,000 each year.

2021-2024 – Four-year M&O Levy Approved for $650,000, $676,000, $703,000, $731,000. 

The M&O levy rate is currently $0.31 per $1,000 of AV.

WILL THE DISTRICT COLLECT THE M&O LEVY IN 2024

If Proposition 1 is approved, the fourth and final year of the M&O levy will not be collected.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

For every $100,000 of assessed valuation the estimated annual increase in the first year is $41.00 or $3.42 per month.

A property valued at $700,000 would see an estimated annual increase in the first year of $287.00 or $23.92 per month.

Levy Rate Monthly Incr_edited.png

*The chart above applies the same property value for tax year 2023 and 2024.We understand that property values will be different from today's value. The King County Assessor's Office is forecasting that property values in Fall City (area 94) will decrease next year by an average of 12.5%.

PROPOSITION 1 - Additional Details

If approved by the voters, this proposition will authorize the District to establish its regular property tax levy rate at $1.50 per $1,000 of AV in 2023 for collection in 2024. The levy lid lift will be limited to six years beginning in 2024 and concluding 2029. During the six-year period the annual limit factor will be the greater of 3% (three percent) or the annual CPI-U for Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue as reported in June each year. The “limit factor” is a percentage limitation on revenue growth from year-to-year. State law requires that the percentage limitation on growth (limit factor) be no more than 1% without a vote of the people.

Fire districts are allowed a 1% (one percent) revenue increase per year, plus new construction values, however, that 1% increase very rarely keeps up with increased costs to deliver emergency services. This results in a funding system that is dependent upon regular ballot measures to the voters. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA region, has increased by 18.8% over the past five years (2018-2022).

WHAT WILL THE LEVY FUNDS PROVIDE?

  • Continue to provide three-person minimum firefighting staffing with our current twelve full-time Firefighter/EMT’s. Three-person minimum staffing is considered the industry standard used in our region. It is the District’s goal to continue providing this level of service for the safety of our firefighters.

  • The Fire District will maintain its Special Operations Programs which includes swift water rescue, technical rescue, and wildland firefighting. Due to river rescues and flooding in our area and the ongoing risk of wildfires it is important to sustain these programs at the local level for a quicker response.

  • Increase staffing to include a day shift Officer position to assist with training, fire prevention, and provide operational support.

  • Apparatus replacement; the District’s 2004 Pierce Engine is scheduled to be replaced in 2025-2026. The estimated cost is 1 million dollars.

  • The District will continue funding for its long-term Vehicle Replacement program, thereby reducing additional financing costs in the future.

  • A Facility Maintenance Reserve fund would be established and funds will be earmarked on an annual basis, to facilitate the replacement of aging equipment and facility repairs. The original Fire Station Building was built in 1976 and a major expansion was done in 2004.

  • Increased training costs: state and federal laws have mandated additional training regulations for firefighters.

  • Increased cost for protective gear and equipment; state laws have mandated new regulations on the service life of protective equipment, e.g.; SCBA packs, bunker gear.

  • Maintenance of emergency vehicles (Aid Units, Fire Engines, Water Tender, and Marine Rescue Units).

  • On-going maintenance of facility and equipment.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE 

  • In May of 2023 a 2021 Ford F450 Ambulance (Demo Unit) was purchased for $265,000, with proceeds from the Vehicle Replacement Fund. This unit replaced the District’s 1999 Ambulance. The purchase of a Demo Unit saved the District an estimated $100,000 and 18-24 months in delivery delays due to supply shortages.

  • In January 2023, the District joined the South King County Training Consortium.

  • In January 2023 the District received $62,000 from a FEMA Public Assistance Grant to reimburse for COVID-19 related expenses that were incurred during the pandemic.

  • In August 2022 the District was awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant through FEMA for $59,474 with a 5% match of $2,974 for a total of $62,448, to cover the cost of bunker gear ($25,448) and Firefighter Training ($37,000).

  • In August 2022 two Command vehicles were procured at a cost of $99,282.

  • In September 2021 a Deputy Chief position was created to increase the number of dedicated hours spent focusing on training and other administrative work.

  • In June of 2021 the District’s 30-year old extrication rescue tools and two imaging cameras were replaced at a cost of $58,000.

  • In June of 2021 SCBA replacements were procured; Scott Air Packs (16) Facepieces (30), Spare Cylinders (32) at a cost of $145,487.

  • In 2021 the Fire District increased its career firefighting staffing from eleven to twelve Firefighters, by the fourth quarter of 2021 all career Firefighters were working the 48/24 hour schedule.

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