What is the Fire Protection Service District?
The Fire Protection Service Tax District is a service tax district created to finance fire protection to the residents of Wake County's fire districts.
What areas are included in the Fire Protection Service Tax District?
The Service Tax District includes all unincorporated areas of Wake County with the exception of an area in the northern part of the County currently served by the Creedmoor Fire Department.
Municipalities are, by North Carolina General Statutes, exempt from a county service district. Municipalities may agree by resolution to be included in the Service District.
How is the money collected on a county-wide basis distributed to individual contracting fire departments?
County fire departments submit budget requests to the Director of the Fire/Rescue Division of the Wake County Department of Public Safety. The Fire/Rescue Director's recommended appropriations are forwarded to the County Fire Commission and to County Management to be included in the County's annual budget package. The Fire Commission reviews the Fire/Rescue Director's recommendations and makes its own recommendations to the County Commissioners. The County Commissioners make the final decision on appropriations.
When did the Fire Service Tax District go into effect?
Created by the Wake County Board of Commissioners in July 1998, the districts took effect on July 1, 1999.
What happened to the existing 21 rural fire tax districts?
The 21 existing rural fire tax districts remain in existence. The tax rates in all 21 rural fire tax districts are set to "0."
How did this change affect the county's fire departments?
The most significant change for county fire departments is the manner in which the departments receive tax revenue. Rather than submit budgets with revenues based upon a tax rate and tax base within individual rural fire tax districts, departments will submit budget requests for funds necessary to provide a minimum level of service. Budgets for some county fire departments increase and other budgets may decrease.
Why was the Service Tax District created?
In 1994, TriData corporation conducted a Comprehensive Review of Wake County Fire Protection. The Final Report contained several recommendations for necessary changes in the funding system for county fire departments.
The existing rural fire tax districts have been in existence since approximately the 1950s. Certain areas of the county have experienced more tax base growth than others. In addition, some residents of the county are beyond five road miles from a fire station. Residents who are beyond five road miles from a fire station do not pay fire tax to the fire department but receive fire protection services from the fire department. All of these situations combined create an environment with unequal levels of funding across the county.
The mission of progressive fire departments is expanding in scope. In addition to the traditional fire suppression services, modern fire departments are providing emergency medical care, response to vehicle accidents, water rescue, confined space rescue, hazardous materials response, fire and life safety education programs, and response to an ever-increasing number of various fire and other alarms.
In large part, services provided by the county fire departments are dependent upon tax revenue generated within the individual rural fire tax districts. With the imbalance of funding across the county, varying levels of service exist across the county.
The Service Tax District is intended to provide a level of funding to all county fire departments based upon county-wide priorities.
How does the Fire Protection Service District affect volunteer firefighters in Wake County?
Wake County government and citizens fully recognize, need and value the services of our volunteers. One of the primary roles of the Fire Commission is to develop and implement firefighter and volunteer incentive, retention and recruitment programs. Funding for these programs comes from the Fire Protection Service Tax District. The purpose of implementing these programs is to recognize and reward the hard work and dedication of our county volunteers.
If I live in a municipality, how will the Fire Protection Service Tax District affect me?
North Carolina General Statute 153A-302 states that areas lying within the corporate limits of a city may not be included in a service district unless the governing body of the city agrees by resolution to such inclusion. Letters inviting participation in the fire protection service district have been sent to all municipalities.
If a municipality elects to join the service district and provides a proper resolution to the Board of County Commissioners, all citizens within the municipality will be taxed at the rate the Board of Commissioners establishes for the service district. The tax revenue from the municipality will be added to the total service district revenue used to finance fire protection within the total service district.
In addition, the County will contract with a fire department to provide fire protection service within that designated portion of the Service District. The resolution presented by a city will place responsibility for service within the service district upon the County, even within the municipal corporate limits. Municipalities will no longer need to contract with the incorporated fire departments for service within the town. For municipalities that join the service district and currently provide fire protection as a function of local government, the service would be provided by a contracting fire department as provided for in a contract between Wake County and the local fire department.
What is the relationship between a fire department serving a municipal area and that respective municipality if the protected municipality joins the fire protection service district?
The County will contract with a fire department to provide fire protection service within that designated portion of the Service District. The resolution presented by a municipality will place responsibility for service within the service district upon the County, even within the municipal corporate limits. Municipalities will no longer need to contract with the incorporated fire departments for service within the town. For municipalities that join the service district and currently provide fire protection as a function of local government, the service would be provided by a contracting fire department as provided for in a contract between Wake County and the local fire department.
Fire departments that serve a municipality as part of the service district will submit a budget request to the Fire Commission. This budget request should reflect the amount of money needed to provide a level of service within the fire department's portion of the service district. The level of service should be based upon county-wide service delivery priorities established by the Fire Commission. The revenue in a fire department's recommended budget to serve a municipality as part of the service district may be more or less than the revenue generated in the municipality at the established service district tax rate.
The tax revenue generated within a municipality at the established service district tax rate may not necessarily all go to the local contracting fire department.
Will a municipality be represented on the Wake County Fire Commission?
Each participating municipality will automatically receive one seat on the Wake County Fire Commission. Representation on the Fire Commission provides the participating municipality an opportunity to have input on service delivery discussions and decisions.