Letter | Understand tax collection methods before April 23rd fire district merger vote

Dear Editor,

Tax collections for Issaquah Fire District 10 and our Fall City Fire District 27 are not created equal.

District 10 collects its taxes on that year’s budget. Then, known as the Fire Benefit Charge, ranging from currently about 30% of budget, but can go as high as 60% is how they make up the difference without a vote of the people. 

Fall City collects a fixed amount based on property tax levy, plus 1% and the value of new construction, along with voter-approved excess property tax levy. Our Fire district creates a budget based on anticipated revenue. In 2018, Fall City underspent $190K that was saved primarily to capital replacement reserve. 

D10/EF&R charges for ambulance transport which is counted within their budget.  D10/EF&R plans to collect $121,741 out of the Fall City area for transport fees and use the amount to represent a lower tax collection overall, implying that the merger shows a larger tax savings.  Fall City does not charge to transport to the hospital. In 2018, Fall City made 160 no charge ambulance transports. A few years ago, I needed ambulance service out of Issaquah and after insurance, my out of pocket costs were still $500.  

Fall City’s current budget includes one of the last two annual $59K engine loan payments plus $80K capital replacement reserve. D10/EF&R’s budget shows no capital replacement reserve.  Are we to believe they don’t collect for capital replacement now or in the future? Fall City’s budget should have been reduced for a more accurate comparison within the option to merge with D10/EF&R.

Be forewarned, District 10 provided budget figures without any way to verify for accuracy. The stated first year’s savings for your property taxes are estimates. Will they continue?

I will be voting NO.

Terri Divers, Fall City Resident

[Letters published do not represent the views of Living Snoqualmie. To submit letters on ballot initiatives or candidates email info@livingsnoqualme.com]

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