Kent and Covington voters will decide on the Aug. 6 primary ballot whether to approve a Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority levy to increase property taxes and reduce fire benefit charges to maintain and adequately fund operations.
Fifty-seven percent of voters rejected a similar measure in April 2018. This year’s measure would allow Puget Sound Fire to restore its property tax levy to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That rate has dropped each year because of the state’s 1 percent limit on property tax increases and the jumps in property values over the last eight years. This year’s rate is 71 cents per $1,000.
Puget Sound Fire makes up the shortfall by raising the fire benefit charge on properties. The fire benefit charge is a variable rate fee based on the square footage and the amount of resources needed to provide emergency services to each house or business. With the fire benefit charge, the owner of a large house or business pays a higher fee than the owner of a small home or business.