The Cities of Olympia and Tumwater are working on a proposal to create a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) that would replace their existing fire departments and impose a new fee on property owners. In addition to a property tax, the plan calls for a new fee called a "Fire Benefit Charge" (FBC).
These calculators (see website navigation buttons on top of page) also allow you to explore how your charge compares to other properties. For example, you may see how the formula developed by the Oly-Tum RFA may charge more per square foot for some smaller residences than for larger ones. This is because of the decision by the cities to use the square root of a residence’s square footage as part of the formula.
The Fire Benefit Charge Formula
Square Root (Property’s Total Square Feet) x 18 x Cost per Gallon of Water @ $57.12 x .01 x Weight for building type/size x Hazard Reduction Factors x Exemptions or Discounts
About Square Footages - More Than You Are Used To
Note that the square footages used by the proposed FBC are not the square footages you are familiar with. For example they include areas not typically included in describing residences which is usually the finished and heated living areas. Instead, the FBC appears to include garages, carports, balconies, attic storage, gazebos, and other structures or buildings on the property. Therefore, we have attempted to display what your residential square footage would likely be under the FBC formula in the tab called "S/F Lookup". Be aware that because it contains nearly 20,000 addresses, it can take a while to load. Once loaded, do a search on the web page based on how your browser does that (in Chrome that's a Control+F).
The formula also includes “building weight factors” which that determine the cost based on certain "breakpoints" of size. For residences there are three breakpoints:
< 2,000 s/f = 0.41
< 3,000 s/f = 0.52
over 3,000 s/f = 0.62
Commercial Property Factors
< 5,000 s/f = 0.60
<20,000 s/f = 1.20
< 50,000 s/f = 2.0
< 100,000 s/f = 3.0
< 200,000 s/f = 4.0
over 200,000 s/f = 5.0
Any size = 1.50
Based on a decision by the RFA Committee, mobile homes are not charged an FBC.
Cost per Gallon (CPG)
Unlike the name implies, the CPG is not actually the cost of delivering water to a fire, rather, as described by numerous RFA's, the “CPG (Cost per Gallon) is a balancing factor used as an adjustable multiplier to finely tune the FBC calculation across all properties to reach the desired target FBC amount.”
The cost is really any number that results in hitting the revenue target for the desired budget of the RFA. In the case of the Oly-Tum RFA, the CPG has is $57.12 *.01 or about 57 cents per gallon in order to raise about $10.5 million. In a previous version, when $13.5 million was to be raised, the CPG was set at $83.38.
Hazard Reduction Factors
A property with a fire suppression sprinkler system receives a 10% reduction in the charge.
Exemptions or Discounts
Properties that are eligible for property tax exemptions such as for low-income seniors, religious facilities, and low-income housing.