SKFR’s service deal with Mason County a win-win, officials say

Transferring responsibility for the Tri-Lakes community from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue to Mason County Fire District 2 would benefit both groups, according to the fire chiefs from both districts.

“We currently pay Mason District 2 about $22,000 per year to respond to emergencies, because they’re closer,” said Wayne Senter, the fire chief for South Kitsap Fire and Rescue. “This partial merger will eliminate the need to pay for that contract service.”

But it will also dry up a revenue source.

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue currently collects about $83,000 in tax revenue from the Tri-Lakes Community before paying Mason County Fire District 2 to provide service for the area.

Because South Kitsap Fire and Rescue collected more than it spent on the Tri-Lakes Community, the disrict would see a financial loss if Mason County Fire District 2 takes over the community.

SKFR officials hope to spread some of that loss to the rest of those living in South Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s district.

“It’s approximately one penny per thousand of assessed value,” said Senter. “So, if your house is worth $300,000, you could see an increase of $3 in one year.”

“It is a very small amount to the individual homeowner, and it’s probably worth it when you talk in terms of our concentration and reliability to respond,” he said.

Mason County Fire District 2 believe that their district, and the Tri-Lakes Community will benefit from the merger.

The Fire Levy rate for property owners in the Tri-Lakes community would decrease from $1.32 per $1000 to $1.28 per $1000, and the EMS levy rate would drop from $0.50 per $1000 to $0.40 per $1000, according to a fact sheet from Bakken and Senter.

At the same time, the fire insurance premium ratings would drop from a nine to a seven for property owners in the area–which would correspond to lower insurance premiums, according to the fact sheet.

“It’s going to bring a higher sense of safety to the community members up here because they’re going to have a staff station that they can look at,” said Elliott Wallace, resident fire fighter for Mason County Fire District 2. “I think everyone’s relieved for their property taxes to go down a little bit.”

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