King County logo
Snoqualmie Pass Fire Protection District No. 51

Proposition No. 1

Shall Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue be authorized to impose benefit charges each year for up to a six-year period, not to exceed an amount equal to sixty percent of its operating budget, and be prohibited from imposing an additional property tax under RCW 52.16.160?



Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue provides emergency medical, and fire protection service to approximately 22 square miles of service area in King and Kittitas Counties. The District Board of Commissioners is requesting voter approval of a benefit charge to replace the expiring six year benefit charge previously approved by the voters in 2008.

A benefit charge is not a property tax. The benefit charge is a user fee designed to allocate the cost of the services provided by the District in reasonable proportion to the measureable benefit a property receives. The benefit charge will be based on a standard industry accepted formula that takes into consideration fire flows, the square footage of structures and the type of structures. The benefit charge will be extended to single family residences beginning in 2015.

The District Board of Commissioners has determined that a benefit charge provides the fairest, most stable, reliable and cost effective method for financing the operations of the District and maintaining a satisfactory level of services.

The proposition requests voters to authorize the benefit charge to be collected for six years from 2015 through 2020. If approved by the voters, the benefit charge will be established by November 30th of each year for collection the following year. Prior to establishing the benefit charge each year, the District Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing and each year property owners will have the right to appeal the amount of the benefit charge.

For questions about this measure, contact: Jeremy Jay Wiseman, Fire Chief 425-434-6333

The emergency responders at SPF&R are our family members and neighbors serving neighbors by protecting our lives and property, as well as protecting the wonderful area in which we live and play.

Since the previous Fire Benefit Charge (FBC) was approved by voters, our Department has been challenged by; decreasing revenues, increased costs to operate and maintain equipment,  increased costs to equip and train first responders, increased general expenses like insurance, utilities, communications, inflation and increased call volumes.  Our dedicated firefighters have reduced response times and improved overall collective skills.  We are fortunate to have our neighbors protecting us.  Now we must support them by passing Proposition 1 and again authorizing a Fire Benefit Charge.

This vital measure will regain the revenues lost over the past few years, providing about 15% of the operating budget, and will enable our first responders to maintain the excellent level of service we all enjoy.  The Board of Commissioners have also publicly agreed to lower the property tax levy concurrent with the FBC, which balances revenue sources for the Department.  Without the FBC we will see a significantly negative impact on our fire Department.  We urge you to vote yes on Proposition 1.

Proposition 1 states that the Fire Benefit Charge is not a tax, it’s a user fee.  Remember, the FBC is mandatory and included in your property tax bill.  You must pay it if we approve it.

The FBC isn’t fair. Normally, property taxes are based upon a capped percentage of property value where luxury homes pay more than modest ones of equal size.  Instead, the FBC bases rates on square footage and a multiplying factor and does not take into account a family’s ability to pay. 

The FBC significantly raises spending caps.  52.18.010 RCW sets the FBC at a maximum of 60% of the operating budget.  This removes normal checks and balances from spending limits and lets Commissioners pick a budget and then assess an FBC up to 60% to meet this.  Do you want to attend monthly Commissioner meetings and public hearings to try and control the FBC increases for six years?  You do have the right to appeal the charges.  That doesn’t mean you have any chance of winning your appeal.

Reject the FBC. Consider a levy lift in the November election to meet our community’s Fire Department needs without giving up our control of limiting spending increases.

The revenues raised by the FBC are a critical part of the operating budget and equitably apportions the FBC across all property owners who benefit from fire protection from SPFR.  Since 2012 revenues are down and the Commissioners have a proven record of not making unnecessary increases in revenue.  A levy lid lift will not get the department back to prior revenue.  The FBC will return revenue to 2012 levels. Vote to approve Proposition 1.

Statements submitted by: Gerald Betts and Jeremy Martin

Proposition 1 seeks to renew and expand the FBC to now cover single family structures.   We need to maintain support for our courageous responders but expanding the FBC is a financially risky way to do this.  If approved, it will grant as few as two people the power to substantially increase the amount of your property tax bill .  Google “52.18 RCW” and read it for yourself.  Vote no. Lets try something else in November.

Statements submitted by: Ernst Schubert

60% yes vote (RCW 52.18.050)


1261 en-US Production

TTY: Relay 711

Sign up for email or text notifications