Welcome to Part 2 in our three-part series discussing the Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) and the upcoming November 2nd ballot measure: Proposition 1. Last month’s newsletter focused on explaining the FBC, how it is calculated, and how it differs from a property tax (if you missed the article, click here). This month, we’re focusing on Proposition 1, which continues the FBC, and how the Renton community will be affected if it does not get approved.
Providing quality, timely fire and life safety services to our community is our top priority. The delivery of these services takes well-trained people, high-performing equipment, strategic financial planning, and the support of the community we serve.
On November 2, voters will be asked to decide on Proposition 1, a measure which, if approved, will extend the existing Renton Regional Fire Authority (RFA) Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) for ten more years. This is not a new tax. The FBC is a fee, based on a standardized formula, that takes into consideration the size, use, fire risks, and hazards of structures on a property to distribute the cost of fire and life safety services throughout the community. Larger and/or more hazardous structures pay more under the FBC than smaller structures with less hazards and risk.
PROPOSITION 1: NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN CURRENT SERVICE LEVELS
The FBC currently supports more than 40% of Renton RFA’s budget. The balance of the budget comes from our fire levy (a property tax—also approximately 40% of the budget), grants and fees for service. Renton RFA staffs seven fire stations, 24/7, across approximately 33 square miles of service area. The FBC allows us to provide reliable emergency medical and fire protection services to the over 135,000 residents and businesses within the City of Renton and King County Fire District 25. The FBC helps provide the funding necessary to maintain the level of service we have built over the last five years.
Approval of Proposition 1 requires support of a simple majority of voters at the November election.
State law requires that a FBC be renewed by the voters within six years of its initial approval. Without voter approval, the FBC will expire at the end of 2023, leaving a 40% hole in our budget. Proposition 1, on the November 2, 2021 ballot, proposes extending the FBC for another 10 years so that we can continue to provide the same level of fire and life safety services our community.
If Proposition 1 fails, our organization will need to address this 40% budget gap by seeking additional property taxes from property owners and/or changing the level of service being provided to the community. Changes in service could include:
- Reducing staffing for engine and aid units, resulting in longer response times.
- Reducing Fire Inspection staff, resulting in longer lead times for contractors and businesses.
- Eliminating community-based programs such as FDCARES. This service connects low-acuity patients (high-utilizers of the 9-1-1 system) with the proactive care they need to eliminate their reliance on emergency services for non-emergency incidents.
The most important action you can take is to vote in the November 2 election! If you have additional questions about the FBC, we are always here to help. Our website provides more information about Proposition 1 (click here) and the FBC (click here). You may also call us at 425-276-9500, Monday – Friday between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM or send us an email to get answers from an FBC expert.
If you belong to a community group or association that would like a virtual or in-person presentation by our Fire Chief or Deputy Chief about the FBC and Proposition 1, please click here to complete our online request form or give us a call at 425-276-9500 to get on our calendar.
Check back with us next month as we learn more about the programs and services the FBC has funded over the last five years and will continue to fund if approved.