Fire Benefit Charge
What we do
We are a regional fire authority providing fire and life safety services to 81,000 people over 172 square miles in the Wenatchee Valley, including:
Trinidad area of Crescent Bar
Wenatchee, #1 and #2 Canyon
We were established in 2022 when voters approved combining Chelan County Fire District 1 and Douglas County Fire District 2 under the name the Wenatchee Valley Fire Department.
We operate under a balanced budget and have passed all financial and accountability audits by the state.
How do we fund emergency services?
We fund emergency services with a fire levy paid through property taxes. The fire levy accounts for 90 percent of our budget and is capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Is there a fairer way to fund emergency services?
We currently fund emergency services based only on a property’s assessed value. This means two houses of the same size can pay dramatically different amounts depending on their location within our fire district, while the cost to defend both in a fire is likely the same.
That is why we are looking at a fairer way to fund emergency services. We are considering establishing what is known as a fire benefit charge. Under a fire benefit charge, two houses of equal size would pay the same fire benefit charge.
What is a fire benefit charge?
A fire benefit charge is an annual fee that is based on a building’s size, use, and cost to defend in a fire. Smaller structures, such as single-family homes, are charged less than larger commercial or industrial buildings because it costs less to serve them during a fire or other emergency.
A fire benefit charge must be approved by voters every six years. The annual rate is set by the Board of Fire Commissioners in a public hearing.
We are considering asking voters for a fire benefit charge in the August 2024 primary election.
What are the advantages of a fire benefit charge?
A fire benefit charge reduces property taxes and is more equitable for taxpayers. By law, the fire levy rate is reduced from $1.50 to $1.00 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The fire benefit charge is then set at a rate by our elected Board of Fire Commissioners at a public hearing each year.
Voters in more than 20 fire districts in the state have approved a fire benefit charge as a fairer way to fund emergency services.
What will this cost me?*
In 2023 , the owner of a 2,000-square-foot home (considered average for our area) paid a fire levy of $825. Under a fire benefit charge, the owner would pay a fire levy of $550 and a fire benefit charge of $221 for a total of $771. In most cases, homeowners will pay less under a fire benefit charge funding model.
COMING SOON: You’ll be able to compare what you paid in property taxes to the proposed fire benefit charge using a calculator on our website.
Fire Chief Brian Brett welcomes your questions at email@example.com or 509-662-4734.
*Property owners have the right to appeal their fire benefit charge if they believe it is incorrect. Seniors, disabled persons, exempt properties, and low-income households will maintain any current exemptions they have through the county.