Voting Pamphlet Said to Have “Factual Errors” on Prop to Combine Fire Depts
There's a claim that local voting pamphlets for Chelan and Douglas counties contain factual errors.
Backers of a Proposition to combine Chelan County Fire District 1 and Douglas County Fire Districts 2 into one Regional Fire Authority (RFA) say the section called "arguments against" has factual misstatements.
They say tax increases in the proposition are greatly overstated, and contend the section also incorrectly states that local control through fire commissioners would be done away with.
The "arguments against" section was prepared by former Douglas County fire fighter and Fire Marshall Doug Miller.
Chelan County Fire District 1 Chief Brian Brett is also currently in charge of Douglas County Fire District 2. He’s one of the organizers of the plan to merge the two districts.
Brett sent out a release to media sources about the claim of factual errors in the voting pamphlet.
He takes issue with two statements in the "arguments against" section.
One statement says the fire district county property tax rates are increased; up to $1.50 per thousand dollars.
Brett says the formation of the Regional Fire Authority would raise property taxes in Chelan and Douglas counties by $0.18 and $0.24 respectively to reach $1.50 per thousand dollars. The taxes would not increase by $1.50.
The other statement Brett says is factually wrong states that non voted increases of 6% each year are also authorized in the measure.
According to Brett, State law does not allow for non-voter approved tax increases of 6% per year.
He said the RFA would be subject to the same 1% annual tax increase limit that applies to all taxing entities in the State. Any increase beyond the 1% statutory limit would require voter approval.
He said a third statement in the "arguments against" section requires clarification.
The statement says, ""Local control through our fire commissioners is replaced by a new fire authority board structure."
The clarification from Brett states that the authority board structure will "consist of the three elected or appointed commissioners of Chelan County Fire District 1 and the three elected or appointed commissioners of Douglas County Fire District 2.”
The proposal to merge the two fire districts into one fire authority is on the ballot in the Aug. 2 primary election.