November 25, 2002
WFLSD establishes 2003 benefit charge
by Jeanette Knutson
Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District (WFLSD), like most homeowners and businesses, survives on a budget. The district has a certain amount of expenses and a certain amount of money coming in.
The department has a pool of workers that have contracted labor agreements, which address cost-of-living adjustments. They have people, as in any business, who get promoted. They have utility costs, fuel costs, medical insurance. From time to time they need to replace equipment, enhance workers' training, and comply with new standards and regulations.
Their expenses, like everyone else's, are going up.
The money coming into WFLSD comes from taxpayers. Each residence and business within the 36-square-mile district pays a property tax levy and a benefit charge, which help maintain the district's current level of service and allow for the purchase of replacement equipment, without going to the public for a bond issue.
The property tax levy for 2003 will be 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
The benefit charge will be approximately 70 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation of the entire fire district.
But Deputy Chief Bud Backer warns, "Don't take your assessed valuation and multiply it by 70 cents and expect to get your total benefit charge."
There is more to the formula than that.
District number crunchers have a calculation based on square footage and fire flow that assigns a dollar value per square foot of your property for the benefit charge.
Those with fire sprinkler systems get a discount.
Backer says they've simplified the process since last year. They're no longer computing deck space nor distance from a fire hydrant in their benefit charge formula.
As last year, however, rates will differ for homeowners and commercial businesses.
"The benefit charge makes a huge difference in what the district is able to do," said Backer. "We're trying to do normal operations, trying to save money in a reserve fund for future equipment purchases, in addition to making immediate equipment purchases."
WFLSD will send out letters explaining the benefit charge early next year.
For more information on the topic, call district headquarters at (425) 483-2131.