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Fire district wants ‘No Man’s Land’ payments

They refer to it as “no man’s land.”

And it includes about 100 properties that are within the boundaries of the Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue District, but to date have not been assessed fire and emergency medical services taxes on their annual property tax bill.

Following approval by its board of commissioners last week, the district is sending letters to owners of these properties asking them to voluntarily pay those taxes or risk being assessed the full costs of any services they receive from CKFR.

According to CKFR spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi, the properties in question are in the district’s boundaries but have never been legally incorporated into the district, or any other fire district. Because of that oversight, the property owners have not been paying the fire and EMS taxes that other Central Kitsap property owners pay.

Consideration of what to do about these properties has been a discussion for the board of commissioners since 2010, according to Sound Publishing archives. Now, the board has passed a policy that these property owned need to pay the fees — $1.50 for every $1,000 of assessed property value for fire services and 50 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value for EMS services.

By mid week, LiMarzi said about eight letters had been sent out and the district had heard back from three of those property owners who elected to pay their fare share. No one has rejected the offer so far.

At the last commissioner’s meeting, Chief Scott Weninger told the board that the district is researching the properties that are affected and will be mailing letters to those property owners in waves. The letters include covenants that they can sign, agreeing to pay the annual equivalent of the fire and EMS taxes. When that happens, they will avoid being billed for the full cost of any response to that location.

Those who decline to sign risk being billed by the hour if they need fire or EMS services.

LiMarzi said for a standard structure fire, those rates typically are $2,500 per hour for a fire response. Fire responses generally take two hours and can involve 11 vehicles and 21 firefighters.

Typical EMS calls would be billed at about $350 an hour that covers the ambulance and two EMTs, but doesn’t include transportation fees, which are charged to anyone, over and above any taxes paid.

The areas affected are properties west of Chico, south of Wildcat Lake and west of Silverdale near the private Apex Airpark. First letters were mailed to residents in the 6800 and 6900 blocks of NW Lois Drive, and the 9900 block of Silver Sound Lane.

District official said that plans are to annex all the “no man’s land” properties into the fire district. But that requires a vote.

Hence, the covenants are the fastest way to insure that the properties are protected.

For those property owners who do not elect to sign the covenants, the State Legislature gave the fire district the right to bill for services last year. The district subsequently adopted a resolution to do so.

The district isn’t sure how much extra income this will bring about, LiMarzi said.

“At this time there are too many variables to make a decent educated guess,” she said. “For the three covenants that have been signed and returned thus far, we estimate approximately $1,000 from each.”

Anyone questioning whether they pay fire and EMS taxes can look at their property tax statement from Kitsap County to see if they are billed fire and EMS taxes. Or for more information, call the district at 360-447-3550.

The CKFR board of commissioners next meets Monday, Jan. 27 at 4 p.m. at 5300 Newberry  Hill Road.

 

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