Taxes and Bonds

Kootenai County Fire & Rescue
Construction PlanUpdates

Your Dollars at Work

New Fire Station Construction

Our fire district continues to see significant growth in people to serve and property to protect! It has been 20 plus years since KCFR last added a station to meet the demands of our community and as you know our community has grown and changed a great deal in those 2 decades. Better aligning the existing stations and adding a 5th staffed fire station allows us to provide enhanced service to citizens and property.

This Bond is not a permanent levy, it has a 10 year term and will not be levied once the bonds are repaid. We are honored to be able to serve our communities and citizens and know that the new facilities and equipment will allow us to do it better, faster and more efficiently!

Table of county tax plan for construction of new fire stations

Bond Frequently Asked Questions

What sources of revenue does the department receive?

Kootenai County Fire and Rescue receives revenue from 5 different sources.

  • Property taxes: account for 75-80% of our annual budget.
  • Kootenai County EMS is the next source of revenue is approximately $1.5 million dollars to provide ambulance service to our residents.
  • Inspections fees are another source of income for your Fire District. We charge a small fee for fire inspections within the district and building inspections in Dalton Gardens.
  • Sales Tax: The State of Idaho has a small portion of its sales tax that goes to our budget. Last year the sales tax accounted for $50,000 of our 13-million-dollar budget.
  • The last source of income for the district is grants. This is not a guaranteed income, but we are always looking and applying for grants to allow us to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars and supplement our budget to help us better protect our community.

How does the department calculate its annual budget?

Our budgeting process begins in the spring of each year. We begin by adding up our fixed costs that include personnel, fuel for the fire trucks, utilities to the stations and all other essential items that are required to keep our district operating. After we figure our fixed cost, we look at our 10 year capital plan and current needs of the district and use the remaining dollars to purchase what is needed each year.

What is a bond?

A bond is a fixed amount of money that the voters approve for their Fire District to use for capital items. Once the voters agree to the bond, the Fire District can access the money through a financial institution. The term for the bond is 10 years and will be paid in full at that time. The amount that the taxpayer is paying will not exceed what is listed in the bond language.

For our current bond, we are asking for approval of $14,900,000 which will be used to build 3 Fire Stations and allow us to better protect our community. This will cost the average taxpayer about $7.00 per month for the 10-year term of the bond.

Why is a bond necessary?

With the large amount of growth that has happened in our area over the last 20 years, the demand on the Fire Department has also increased. Kootenai Fire is only able to increase our budget by 3% plus new construction each year. With the increased value of homes in our area our levy rate has actually gone down meaning that a homeowner is paying less per hundred thousand dollars of home value. With inflation and increased cost of doing business we are unable to fund new Fire Stations from our regular budget. The last time that we built a new fire station was in 1999.

We asked for a bond to allow us to catch up with the service demands in our district. With the current laws in Idaho, we are unable to collect impact fee to charge the new construction for the cost of capital items. We are working with Kootenai County and the City of Post Falls to hopefully allow us to collect impact fees in the future. If we are able to get these entities to collect the fees for us, we will not need to ask for a bond for future fire stations.

Why can’t the department just use reserves?

By law we need to maintain a certain amount of reserves for operational needs. If we depleted our reserves to build a station we wouldn’t be  maintaining our mandate of at least four months operating cash to stay in the black. It is our responsibility to maintain our services so in order to do some of these projects we would have to cut services.

How does an Urban Renewal District impact the fire department?

When a Urban Renewal District is established the property taxes that are collected within the that district do not go to the taxing entities for a set amount of time. As homes and businesses are built, the demand for service is increased but the fire district does not receive tax dollars from the URD until it is closed. This is approximately 20 years after the URD is established.

Why did KCFR choose this election for its bond?

In Idaho you can only run an election at certain times of the year and the school districts have a little bit wider range than we do. We have worked very hard to assure that we have completed all our due-diligence and that we are presenting a responsible and well thought out plan to our voters.

What is the difference between a bond and levy?

A bond is used for one-time capital items like building a Fire Station. A levy is used for operational expenses and is typically renewed in multi-year intervals. A bond is for a set amount of money and allows the taxing district to go to a financial institution to receive that money with the bond amount collected paying back the loan. A levy is an increase in the amount of money that a homeowner pays in taxes based on the assessed value of the home or property.

How is KCFR going to pay for personnel to staff the new station?

We will be relocating two Fire Stations and building one new Fire Station. We currently have two Urban Renewal Districts that will be ending in the next 3 years. With the increased revenue that will be collected from the URD closures, this will allow us to hire the nine firefighters that are required to staff the new fire station. We have chosen to move two of the Fire Stations to allow our stations to be better located and improve our services without needing to hire additional firefighters for the two stations.

What is an impact fee?

An impact fee is a fee that is collected by a jurisdiction during the construction process that goes into a capital fund to pay for increased need that are placed on a taxing district by new construction. A developer would pay a set amount per new home and that money would be used to build fire stations and purchase apparatus.

In the State of Idaho, fire districts do not have the authority to collect impact fees, so it has to be collected on our behalf by the County and Cities. We are working closely with Kootenai County and the City of Post Falls to begin collecting impact fees. This is a project that has been attempted in the past, but unfortunately, we have never been able to have these organizations collect impact fees for Kootenai County Fire and Rescue.

We are confident that we will be able to begin collecting impact fees in the future and this money will be used to build future Fire Stations ensuring that we will not need to come back to the voters to ask for another bond.

Why does KCFR not collect impact fees?

Kootenai County Fire and Rescue does not have the authority to collect impact fees. Per Idaho State law we rely on Kootenai County and the City of Post Falls to collect impact fees for our district. We attempted to have these entities collect impact fees in the past, but we were unsuccessful. We are currently in talks with the city and county and are hopeful that we will be able to collect impact fees for future capital expenses.

If we were able to collect impact fees, could we avoid a bond this year?

This bond will get us to our current operational needs, so we would not be able to avoid going to bond. National standard is to have 1 fire station per 10,000 residents. We currently have 4 fire stations, and our district population is going to top 50,000 people with the 2020 census. We are already one station behind so this bond will bring us up to current standards. We have plans in place for future fire stations as our community continues to grow and we plan to use impact fees to pay for those stations. We are confident that if this bond passes, and we are allowed to collect impact fees, this will be the only time that we come to our voters to ask for a bond.

What is KCFRs levy rate and how has it changed in the last 10 years?

The KCFR property tax levy rate has actually gone down. This year it is the lowest is has been in the last 10 years. Here is a breakdown of the levy rates for those years:

2010 0.001860255

2011 0.001995947

2012 0.001987343

2013 0.002008693

2014 0.001921489

2015 0.001929461

2016 0.001892048

2017 0.001890906

2018 0.001884792

2019 0.001695139

2020 0.001591843

What is KCFRs coverage area?

We cover the city of Post Falls including north to Wyoming Ave and south of the Spokane River. We cover City of Dalton Gardens, Fernan Village, Stateline and then east of Coeur d’Alene to Fourth of July Pass. Our coverage area is 115 square miles.

What effect has the population growth had on KCFR?

Our community has seen a 34.5% growth in the last 10 years and in that same time our emergency responses have increased 63%. We have also seen an increased demand on our Fire Marshal’s office providing fire inspections. Our fire district has been able to grow with the community but unfortunately, we have not had the budget to add any new fire stations since 1999.

What goes in to building a fire station?

We have 4 to 7 firefighters that live and work in a fire station 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. We are a public building so we must provide for public access to the building. Firefighters are at an increased risk of contracting occupational cancers so we must provide for decontamination areas of equipment following a structure fire. We have to take into account a diverse workforce and provide separate sleeping quarters for our staff. With our firefighters working for 24 hours at a time we must provide for living areas, office space and training areas. All of this is taken into account when designing a new fire station and this is the reason that a new station costs more than just building a garage.

Why do fire trucks respond to medical calls with an ambulance?

We currently staff 4 fire trucks and 2 ambulances in our Fire District. All of our personnel are trained at the EMT or Paramedic level. We respond with both an ambulance and a fire truck to get a trained provider to the emergency as soon as possible. Keeping in mind that brain death begins in 4 to 6 minutes without oxygen so it is very important that a provider is close to the emergency.

Another factor that we take into consideration is that it usually takes more personnel to safely move a patient who is unable to walk or stand. When a patient is in cardiac arrest, it requires up to 6 providers to complete all of the time sensitive life saving measures. We never truly know what the emergency is that we are responding to and we feel that the life and safety of our community is worth sending multiple apparatus to.

Why doesn’t tax revenue from all the new construction pay for stations? 3% cap vs 6% growth?

Idaho state law dictates that our budget is only able to increase by 3%, plus new construction each year. Even though Post Falls is one of the fastest growing cities in the state of Idaho our budget does not grow with the growth percentage. We are unable to maintain our response levels and increased cost of doing business utilizing the 3% budget growth. As our area has grown the levy rate that you pay on your taxes has dropped per one hundred thousand dollars of value because our budget is being spread amongst the new residents of our district.

cityscape overhead view of fire trucks

Opening of One of KCFR’s New Stations has been Pushed Back

The opening of one of Kootenai County Fire and Rescue’s new stations has been pushed back about a year.

Adapting to Population Growth in North Idaho

2022 saw tremendous growth in our area in regards to population and consequently supportive development to accommodate this growth, but more specifically, our Department also had growth which is designed to support our community. Our Department participated in many drills and exercises with outside agencies for larger scale incidents. These types of trainings are typically attended by Law Enforcement, Military, Hospital and Health Care agencies as well as other area Fire Agencies. We continue to develop our Training Campus which allows for more qualitative training opportunities for our members and those who utilize our campus. We added 6 more firefighters to our rank and file following a 10 week fire academy ending mid-February 2023, and have secured funding to build storage buildings and a remote outdoor classroom for training evolutions on the training grounds.