Northwest NEWS

January 21, 2002

Editorial

More explanations are needed for the new increased benefit charge

The department's explanation said it's to enable the collection of "the full voter approved $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation district-wide by using a combination of the Fire Protection Levy and the Benefit Charge." (Side note: Wasn't the intent of I-747 to effect spending reductions by all government agencies? So, post-I-747 shouldn't we be voting on any increase that exceeds the I-747 allowance?)
   Whatever. How can a combination of 84.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation (AV), plus an amount based on total square footage of improvement (buildings, decks, etc.) become equal to $1.50 per $1,000 of AV? It appears to be apples and oranges, whereas the former benefit charge based on the AV of site improvement was apples-to-apples.
   And where's the fairness in using square footage as the benefit charge basis in the case of a small house that has a large metal farm equipment shed without electricity or other fire hazard?
   Further, since the majority of the department's emergency calls are for accidents and medical emergencies, not fires, how is it fair to base benefit charges on fire fighting potential?
   The voters have always given the Woodinville fire department everything it's asked for. On top of which, fire-department-required sprinklers and construction standards have cut back on fire calls. And the voters have approved the Emergency Medical Services Levy, part of which goes to the fire departments. So it's not unreasonable to expect the fire department now to pull in its belt and economize, just as the rest of the government agencies are expected to do.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville