What will Proposition 1 do for the Riverside Fire Authority?

Due to the 1% levy limitations, inflation, and the growth of our community, Riverside Fire Authority’s operational expenses are outpacing revenues. Proposition 1 asks voters’ permission to:

  • Restore RFA’s fire levy to a rate of $1.35 per $1,000 in assessed value for the 2025 tax year from a current fire levy rate of $1.04 in 2024.
  • Give RFA permission to annually increase the fire levy by up to 6% as needed in years 2026-2030. After 2030, the annual increase rate will revert back to the statutory maximum of 1% per year.

A simple majority – 50% + 1 yes votes out of total votes cast – is needed to pass Proposition 1.

Any applicable senior or low-income property tax exemptions would apply to this levy lid lift.

Why does RFA need Proposition 1?

Heightened public demand requires RFA to respond to ever-increasing call volumes. New residential and multi-family construction increases populations and calls for service.

Link to residential/multi-family projects in planning: City Community Development

New commercial and industrial properties increase the daily number of people in RFA’s service area. These properties have increased risks for injuries. They also present larger and more complex fire and hazardous material risks that RFA must be ready to resolve in an emergency.

The increased density of development (meaning a higher concentration of buildings with reduced separation from other buildings or with multiple floors) requires fielding more firefighters and fire engines to address the additional challenges.

Link to commercial & industrial projects in planning: City Community Development

The threat of wildfire is seen every summer in all parts of the RFA service area. An increased emphasis on firefighters, equipment and training is necessary and must continue.

RFA must have reliable financial resources that allow sustained operations and meet future needs despite inflation. Adequate staffing with increasing capabilities is paramount to ensure effective emergency response, lifesaving medical treatment, and fire suppression.

Restoring the RFA's fire levy rate to $1.35 and the ability to increase annual revenue by up to 6% will allow RFA to keep fire engines and ambulances responding. Funded program expansions include additional career and volunteer personnel, fire & injury prevention, and community healthcare referral.

In years 2021-2024, the average annual consumer price index increased to 5.95% (Apr 12-mo, CPI-U, Seattle area). Annual revenue increases capped at 1% lose more buying power with each passing year. Revenue simply cannot keep pace with inflation and RFA’s costs to support our growing community.

This graph illustrates the the previously approved levy rate of $1.50, the current 2024 levy rate of $1.04, and the proposed 2025 levy rate of $1.35.

The scenarios in the graphs above and below do not include any new construction value, as the value of new construction does not fall under the same 1% limit for the first year it appears on the tax rolls. New construction value is added to the upcoming year’s levy and calculated at the rate of the year it was completed. With the inclusion of new construction value, the fire levy increased an annual average of 3.6% in years 2021-2024 - more than 2% points below the CPI-U average for the same period.

This graph provides a visual example of the impact of a 6% limit factor versus the current 1% limit factor. This is a hypothetical scenario using an annual AV growth rate of 5% between years 2024-2025 and 2025-2026. Note the changes to the levy rates in comparison to the limit factor. The levy rate begins to decrease with the use of the smaller (1%) limit factor and rise with the use of the larger (6%) limit factor.

In 5 out of the last 6 years, the annual assessed value (AV) growth rate has exceeded 6%. If the AV growth rate exceeds the limit factor, the levy rate would drop instead of raising as depicted in the final column in the graph above. With the ability to increase the limit factor up to 6%, our revenues are able to more closely match the increases of community growth, property value and inflation on goods and services. (See also "Why does the RFA fire levy rate keep going down?" )

This 6% annual increase is applicable only to the RFA’s fire levy. The actual dollar value of the fire levy request made by the RFA Board of Fire Commissioners each year will not be allowed to exceed a 6% annual change (new construction value not included) and the fire levy rate can never exceed $1.50.

A fire levy increase of up to 6% would be applied across all of the value of the service area and does not automatically mean that an individual homeowner’s property tax bill will increase by 6% per year. The total assessed value and taxes to be collected are determined by the Lewis County Assessor.