How Is Our Fire District Funded?
Property taxes are our primary revenue source. All property taxes are based on the concept of assessed valuation.
Assessed valuation includes three elements:
- Assessed value of property that has previously been on the tax role of the District.
- Assessed value of new construction and improvements to real property.
- Assessed value of private utilities that cross county boundaries established by the Department of Revenue.
The County Assessor notifies our District of the assessed values every fall.
Here is a brief explanation of what the different types of levies and revenue sources are at Graham Fire & Rescue (GFR):
Regular Tax Levy
Fire Protection Districts may levy up to $1.50 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. This $1.50 is comprised of:
- RCW 52.16.130 ($.50) General levy limit
- RCW 52.16.140 ($.50) General levy may exceed limit
- RCW 52.16.160 ($.50) Ad Valorem Tax (must have one full time, paid employee or contracts for the services of at least one full time, paid employee).
Graham Fire & Rescue currently levies $1.00 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.
Emergency Medical Service Levy
RCW 84.52.069, Fire Protection Districts and Regional Fire Authorities also have the authority to levy an additional fifty cents ($.50) per thousand dollars of assessed value to provide emergency medical services for a six-year, ten-year or on a permanent basis. Graham Fire & Rescue has a permanent EMS levy, however, the levy rate has fallen to $0.39 per thousand assessed valuation.
Excess Tax Levy
An excess levy is a levy that exceeds the $1.50 regular tax levy limits. Our M&O Levy of 2019-2022, which ended in 2020 after approval of the benefit charge, is an example of an excess tax levy.
RCW 52.18, Fire Protection Districts and Regional Fire Authorities have the authority to collect a benefit charge. The benefit charge accounts for a certain percentage of our budge and may vary year to year:
- 2021 Benefit Charge: 24% of approved budget
- 2022 Benefit Charge: 16% of budgeted revenues
- 2023 Benefit Charge: 16% of budgeted revenues
Click here to learn more about the benefit charge.
Other Non Tax Revenue Sources
- Transport Billing Revenue – Our District contracts with a transport billing service. They bill insurance companies to recoup the costs of transporting patients. Our District does not bill out-of-pocket expenses to citizens that live within our borders.
- GEMT Revenue – Ground Emergency Medical Transport (GEMT) is a government supplemental program passed in 2015-16. GEMT provides supplemental payments to publicly-owned, qualified providers.
- SAFER Grant Reimbursement – In 2018 we received a SAFER grant through FEMA that allowed us to hire much needed personnel. SAFER reimburses us 75% of our costs for this personnel in the first two years and 35% of our costs in the third year. This allows the District time to find other funding sources to retain the personnel long term.
- Miscellaneous Revenue – Other revenue does come into the District. Interest earnings, contracts, mitigation fees, billing for trainers and classes are some examples.
Citizens residing in Graham Fire & Rescue’s District are not billed personally for transport services above what insurance coverage provides, which translates to no out-of-pocket expense for our citizens.