August 2022 Ballot Measures

August 2022 Ballot Measures

At the April 25th Board of Fire Commissioners Meeting, the Central Pierce Fire & Rescue Commissioners unanimously voted to place two Measures on the August 2, 2022 Ballot. The EMS Levy and the Fire Benefit Charge are both reauthorizations and provide critical funding for the Fire District

If you would like to be considered by the Districts Board of Fire Commissioners to be one of the three individuals selected to represent the “for” committee or the “against” committee, please email Dianne Porter at dporter@centralpiercefire.org no later than 4:30PM Friday, May 6th. The Commissioners will make their selections at the May 9th Board Meeting.

Continue critical funding

Fire Benefit Charge and Emergency Medical Service Levy Renewal on the Aug. 2 Primary Election

Central Pierce Fire & Rescue (CPFR) is asking voters to renew two existing funding sources on the August Primary Election:

  • A six-year reauthorization of the Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) 
  • A six-year reauthorization of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Levy 

These are not new taxes or fees. They are a continuation of previously voter-approved funding sources that will expire unless reauthorized by the voters. A simple majority vote is required for each measure.

Funds over half of our budget

The FBC and EMS Levy together contribute nearly 52% of our overall budget. 

The FBC and EMS Levy, together with CPFR’s Fire Levy, provide a three-prong funding approach that allows us to fully fund operations and distribute costs based on what it costs to provide fire service to each property, not just simply the value of the property. 

This mix of revenue sources ensures that there is stable and reliable funding for the critical public safety services we provide to your community. 

Maintain current fire and emergency medical services

Renewal of the FBC and EMS Levy will ensure that dependable, high-quality fire and life-saving services can be maintained today and into the future. Current financial forecasts show that barring continued high inflation,  these funding renewals will enable us to eliminate the need to return to voters for a capital bond measure for station and apparatus improvements in the next six years and possibly beyond.

Rejection of the measures would eliminate approximately 52% of CPFR funding beginning January 2023, and fire and emergency response services would be negatively impacted. 

Below are questions we often hear related to the renewal Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) and the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Levy. If you have additional questions please contact

Fire Chief Dustin Morrow at 253-538-6475 or Darrin Shaw  253-538-6400 or by E-Mail

1. Why is CPFR proposing two ballot measures on the Aug. 2 2022 primary election?

Two of CPFR’s primary funding sources—the Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Levy—by law must be renewed by voters every six years. Both will expire in 2022 if they are not reauthorized by voters. By law, the renewal for each funding source must be presented as a separate ballot item which is why CPFR has two measures on the Aug. 2 election.

Together, the FBC and EMS Levy fund 52% of our overall budget, paying for fire and life-saving services. Renewal would ensure current service levels can be maintained; rejection means fire and emergency medical service levels would be impacted given the loss of more than half of our funding

 

2. Are the FBC and EMS Levy new fees or taxes?

No, voters have renewed both of these funding sources every six years for decades.

Reauthorization of the FBC and EMS Levy would allow CPFR to continue to collect these funds and continue delivering dependable, high quality fire and life-saving services to our communities for the next six years.

3. How are CPFR’s services funded today?

CPFR’s fire and emergency medical services to our community are funded by a mix of voter-approved revenues as well as grants and fees. Two primary funding sources are the FBC (36%) and EMS Levy (16%). Together, these two funding sources make up 52% percent of our budget.

 

Our three-pronged funding strategy (FBC, EMS Levy and Fire Levy) allows us to allocate costs considering the cost of providing service to the property, not just the value of the property. A mix of revenue sources also ensures a more stable and reliable revenue stream to provide reliable service to the community.

4. What happens if one or both of these measures are not approved in August?

Rejection of both the FBC and the EMS Levy would eliminate 52% of our current budget. Emergency medical services funding would be essentially eliminated. Losing more than half or our funding would impact services to our community.

Rejection of the FBC would eliminate 36% of our budget.

Voter approval of both the FBC and the EMS Levy continues existing funding allowing CPFR to continue to provide the level of fire and life safety services our communities have become accustomed to.

5. Are there exemptions?

Yes, all exemptions under state law that apply to the current FBC and EMS Levy will continue. Senior, low-income and persons with disabilities, and in the case of the FBC, specific religious institutional facilities (churches, schools), vacant land and/or parcels with structures under 120 square feet and nonprofit and public housing for certain residents are generally exempt

6. What is a Fire Benefit Charge (FBC)?

The FBC is a user fee (not a property tax) based on a standard industry-accepted formula that takes into consideration the size, use, and fire risk of a structure. Unlike property tax, the FBC is not based on property value but is designed to allocate the cost of the services provided by CPFR in a reasonable proportion to the benefit the property receives.

Under the FBC, larger, more complex structures that require a larger, more complex fire response generally pay more. Single-family residential and small commercial properties that require a less complex response generally pay less.

Learn More About the FBC and EMS Levy Renewal

It’s important our community understands the impacts if either the FBC and/or the EMS levy ballot measures are approved or rejected by voters. We are available to answer your questions and/or provide a virtual or in-person presentation to your association or group.

For more information please contact Fire Chief Dustin Morrow at dmorrow@centralpiercefire.org or 253-538-6475 or Darrin Shaw at dshaw@centralpiercefire.org or 253-538-6400.

7. Why does CPFR use a FBC to fund its services?

The FBC, in conjunction with other diversified funding sources provides a reliable and cost-effective method for financing critical fire and emergency medical services.

The FBC provides stable funding for CPFR and is consistent for the property owner, even in times of uncertainty or if property values increase considerably as we’ve seen over recent years. And, if property values decline, the FBC can be relied on to maintain a consistent source of funding for fire and life safety services

8. How much does the FBC cost?

It depends on the size and use of structures on your property. If voters renew the FBC, the owner of a 2,000-square-foot home would pay approximately $241 per year (or $20 per month).

 

9. Do other fire agencies utilize FBCs?

Yes, voters approved FBCs in 11 other fire agencies in central Puget Sound, including Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, Valley Regional Fire Authority, Renton RFA, King County Fire District 40, King County Fire District 6, Duvall-King County Fire District 45, Woodinville Fire & Rescue, Graham Fire & Rescue, South Snohomish County Regional Fire & Rescue, Shoreline Fire and Orting Valley Fire & Rescue.

CPFR has utilized a voter-approved FBC since 1991.

10. What is an EMS Levy?

Local governments in Washington State may, with voter approval, impose a property tax of up to $0.50 per $1,000 assessed value for emergency medical services (EMS) under RCW 84.52. 069. Fire agencies can seek voter approval for an EMS levy lasting for six or ten consecutive years, or permanently.

CPFR’s current EMS levy is authorized for six years and the ballot measure proposes renewing this levy for another six years.

11. How much does the EMS Levy cost?

If voters renew the EMS Levy at the current $0.50/$1,000 rate, the owner of a home assessed at $500,000 would pay approximately $250 per year (or $21 per month).

12. What does EMS Levy pay for?

By law, EMS Levy revenues may be used only for emergency medical care or emergency medical services, including personnel costs and training, and related equipment, supplies, vehicles and structures needed to provide these critical services

Learn More About the FBC and EMS Levy Renewal

It’s important our community understands the impacts if either the FBC and/or the EMS levy ballot measures are approved or rejected by voters. We are available to answer your questions and/or provide a virtual or in-person presentation to your association or group. 

For more information please contact Fire Chief Dustin Morrow at dmorrow@centralpiercefire.org or 253-538-6475 or Darrin Shaw at dshaw@centralpiercefire.org or 253-538-6400.