FIRE BENEFIT CHARGE INFORMATION
On November 4, 2020 the citizens of North Highline Fire District voted to enact a fire benefit charge beginning January 1, 2021.
1. What is a benefit charge?
The 1987 Washington State Legislature passed RCW 52.18.030 authorizing fire districts the option to collect a benefit charge from residential and business property owners if the voters of the district approve it. The benefit charge is not a per call charge and is not based on property value. The benefit charge is a fee which is based on the benefit of having fire protection. This is referred to as a "benefit charge." The county assessor's office sends the county treasurer's office the data on properties, which is then collected by the county treasurer's office along with the property tax bill.
2. How will a benefit charge provide a better source of funding for the fire district?
The benefit charge is a fairer way of funding the district's fire service. Property taxes only take into consideration the value of the property and not the benefits provided by the fire district. These benefits include lower fire insurance costs, which are passed on to the homeowner. By using a benefit charge, costs are more fairly distributed.
3. How much revenue will be available from the benefit charge?
The benefit charge law provides for annual public hearings and must be put to the voters for renewal every ten years and must not exceed 60% of the district's annual operating budget.
4. 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. If a fire district enacts a benefit charge it must reduce its maximum regular property tax levy from $1.50 to $1.00 of assessed valuation.
5. How will a benefit charge help the average homeowner?
The benefit charge provides a continued level of dependable fire service by maintaining well equipped firefighters; and because homeowners have a regular voice in the benefit charge, they will have a greater control over the cost of their fire service.
6. Who establishes the benefit charge and what does it cover?
RCW 52.18.030 states that the Board of Fire Commissioners may fix and impose a benefit charge on personal property and improvements to real property. The benefit charge does not apply to land. The benefit charge covers such property as residential buildings, commercial structures, agricultural buildings, and other structures affixed to the land.
The statute also provides for certain exemptions, which include:
Appeals - All appeals must be in writing, with supporting documentation from King County (see below) or proof of sprinkler installation (see below) and to be submitted to our office no later than Friday, February 18th, 2022 @ 5:00PM. Please note, North Highline Fire District does not apply or assess the King County discounts, as that is done directly through the application process with the King County Tax Assessors office. Noted below are helpful links and phone numbers for you to contact directly with regards to your specific request. After they process, they will advise us of if any potential reductions or discounts were applied.
To see if you qualify for any discounts or exemptions, please visit: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor/TaxRelief/~/media/depts/assessor/documents/Exemptions/Brochure.ashx
If you meet all of the basic qualifications apply online here: taxrelief.kingcounty.gov and if you need assistance filing the online application or have questions about the documentation you require? Please call the King County tax office at 206-296-3920.
Here is some information from the King County Assessor’s Website:
Senior Citizens/Disabled Deferral
If you meet qualification, you can defer your unpaid property tax/or special assessments.
If you are 60 or older or are retired because of physical disability, meet equity requirement, living in the home for more than nine months in a calendar year and have annual household disposable income of $67,411 or less for the previous year, you may qualify for deferral of your property tax liability. Any unpaid past year taxes can also be deferred, providing you owned the property during those years. Deferred taxes plus accumulated interest become a lien on your property until the total amount is repaid. For information, call 206-263-2338.
Limited Income Deferral
If you meet qualification, you can defer 2nd installment of your property taxes /or special assessments. To qualify, you must have owned your property for five years, meet equity requirement, living in the home as of January 1 of the application year and more than nine months during that year and every subsequent year and have annual household disposable income of $57,000 or less for the previous year. The first half of your taxes, due April 30th, must be paid before applying for the deferral on your second installment due October 31st. The rate of interest for the deferral is based on an average of the federal short-term rate, plus 2 percent. The application deadline is September 1 of each year. The deferred taxes, plus accumulated interest, become a lien on your property until the total amount is repaid. For more information, call 206-263-2338.
Here are some items (include the property physical address and parcel #) that you can submit via e-mail to Office@NorthhighlineFD.org that are considered proof of coverage for consideration of a sprinkler discount:
· A current proof of service (within the past 30 days) from your alarm company that clearly shows that automatic fire sprinklers are being monitored at the address of the building you are requesting adjustment for.
· A copy of your fire sprinkler backflow prevention test that has been performed by a qualified sprinkler contractor or your water company within the last year stating that the test is for a fire sprinkler system at the address of the building you are requesting adjustment for.
· A copy of your sprinkler confidence test report performed by a qualified contractor within the past year at the address of the building you are requesting adjustment for.
· A copy of your fire sprinkler installation permit clearly showing that the installation has had its final inspection and is installed at the address of the building you are requesting adjustment for.
For additional information, please call 206-263-2324 or 360-534-1400.
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