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Published on Friday, January 15, 2016

House committee to consider funding of fire districts and fire authorities

The House Local Government Committee is scheduled to hear two proposals addressing the funding of regional fire authorities and fire districts on Tuesday, January 19 at 10 am.

HB 1605 changes the length of time a fire district or regional fire authority may impose a benefit charge and the voter approval requirements to do so.

Currently, a fire district or regional fire authority may impose a fire benefit charge for a maximum of six years with 60 percent voter approval. To continue imposing the benefit charge after six years, a fire district proposal must get 50 percent voter approval, and a fire authority must get 60 percent voter approval.

HB 1605 would allow a fire benefit charge to be imposed for six years, ten years, or permanently. For a six or ten year benefit charge, a fire district or regional fire authority would both be required to get 50 percent voter approval. For a permanent fire benefit charge, both would be required to get 60 percent voter approval.

The proposal also provides levy capacity protections to fire authorities that is similar to that of fire districts.

HB 2321 and SB 6204 address the formation and funding of regional fire authorities. The bills remove several disincentives to forming regional fire authorities, including allowing two fire authorities to merge. In addition, the bills provide regional fire authorities with the same property tax levy bumping and banked capacity protections that fire districts have. Regional fire authorities would also be required to prepare an annual fiscal accountability report.