TWO PART FUNDING SYSTEM
On April 26, 2016, City of Renton and Fire District 25 voters approved Proposition 1, creating a Renton Regional Fire Authority (RFA) and the associated funding for the RFA. The RFA officially began operations on July 1, 2016. To read more information about becoming an RFA, click here.
How is the RFA funded and how does it differ from the previous funding for fire and emergency medical services?
The RFA is funded by a combination of:
- Property tax at $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed value; and a
- New Fire Benefit Charge that applies to structures 400 square feet and larger. The fire benefit charge is related to required firefighting resources, the size of the building(s) on a property, and the hazards associated with the building(s).
The Fire Benefit Charge is based on a national standard and considers required firefighting resources, the size of the building(s) on a property, and the hazards associated with those building(s). For example, a business storing pressurized gas products will pay more than an office building of the same size. A new house and an older house of the same size will typically pay the same amount.
Eligible low income senior citizens and disabled persons will receive the same percentage discounts on their FBC as they currently do for property taxes. Click here for low-income senior citizen discount information.
How will a benefit charge provide a better source of funding for the RFA?
The benefit charge is a fairer way of funding fire service. Property taxes only take into consideration the value of the property and not the benefits provided. These benefits include lower fire insurance costs, which are passed on to the property owners. Other benefits include charging the cost of specialized equipment and training required by some properties to those properties. By using a benefit charge, costs will be more fairly distributed.
How much revenue will be available from the benefit charge?
The statute states that the total amount that can be raised by a benefit charge cannot exceed 60% of the operating budget. Since the RFA is enacting a benefit charge, it must reduce its maximum regular property tax levy from $1.50 to $1.00 per $1,000.00 assessed valuation.
How much will I pay for the RFA?
Under the RFA operating plan, property owners will pay more for fire and emergency medical services than they did previously. Based on 2016 fire and emergency medical service costs and property values, a homeowner with a house of median value (2,180 square feet, $291,000 assessed value), living in either Fire District 25 or the City, will pay approximately $10 more per month than they previously paid for fire and emergency medical services.
In addition, in 2017, the Renton homeowner with a house of median value will also pay the City an estimated $12 per month for the construction of a new fire station in the north part of Renton. The City plans to further reduce its property tax in 2018 once the new fire station is funded.
Commercial property owners will generally see greater cost increases than residential property owners. Some property owners who are exempt from paying property tax (under Article 84 of the tax code) will contribute to the RFA through the new benefit charge funding mechanism.