Smiles on the faces of Valley Regional Fire Authority personnel could not have been anything but maximum-wide Tuesday evening, given the first returns of the special election, showing VRFA Proposition 1, the re-authorization of its funding method, passing by an insurmountable margin.
In the combined results of King and Pierce counties, the “yes” vote was 5,704 to the “no” vote of 1,709, or 76.95-to-23.05 percent for passage.
As it must do every six years, the VRFA’s Board of Governance called for the Feb. 13 special election to re-authorize its use of the Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) to fund the operations of the fire authority, which serves the cities of Algona, Auburn and Pacific.
The FBC is based on the type of occupancy — residential or commercial — and square footage, which is an assessment of the cost of providing fire protection services to a particular building. The VRFA has maintained the FBC well below 60 percent of the operating budget cap while fully funding the fire, rescue and emergency medical services to the community.
Ever since 2008, the FBC has supported about 44 to 48 percent of the VRFA operating budget. State law requires approval to continue the use of the FBC funding model while it prohibits imposing an additional property tax of 50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value for fire protection services otherwise allowed by law.
In 2006, voters from the three cities approved the FBC by a super majority of nearly 70 percent, and renewed its use in 2012 with 76 percent approval.