Voters in Renton have until April 26 to decide if they want to change their fire service from a city service to its own independent agency, complete with its own taxing authority to create a guaranteed revenue stream.
If approved, the Renton Regional Fire Authority would combine the Renton Fire Department and King County Fire District No. 25 into a single entity.
The move would change how fire service is paid for, removing it from the city ledger and instead pay for services through a combination of property taxes and a six-year “fire benefit charge” that bases costs on the estimated difficulty of fighting a fire at any given structure. The property tax rate can not exceed $1 per $1,000 assessed value.
The charge would replace the current $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value, though the city would not completely eliminate the tax rate, but use the money for other purposes, which could result in a higher tax rate overall for some.
If approved, a new fire station would also be built in the Kennydale area.
Proponents of the measure point to falling response times and the need for a steady revenue stream.
Opponents of the measure (though no one representing the “con statement in the voter guide lives in Renton) claim the FBC estimates are low and will adversely affect apartments and businesses.