“Clerical Error” Leads to Approx $500,000 Shortfall at Benton County Fire District 4
(West Richland, WA) -- A "clerical error" is being blamed for events leading to a roughly $500,000 budget shortfall on Benton County Fire District 4. It was back in 2022 that voters approved a levy lid lift for Emergency Medical Services in BCFD 4, which would have allowed the district to hire several personnel, replace equipment and renovate facilities. However, BCFD 4 Chief Paul Carlyle says the Benton County Assessor's Office, failed to increase property taxes to the voter approved level, leading to the shortfall.
Because of the error, BCFD 4 is now unable to hire one position and must delay replacing some emergency apparatus. The district was also in the process of replacing a fire engine; but Chief Carlyle says if bids come in higher than expected, that project will also have to be delayed.
“We promised our community that these projects would be completed if the lid lift was approved,” said Chief Carlyle. “The County Assessor ‘forgot’ to increase the EMS levy to the amount voters approved in the 2022 election. Now, we’re scrambling.”
BCFD 4 is having to rewrite the budget to account for the $500,000 loss. It says EMS accounts for 65% of all emergency calls for Benton 4 so any loss of revenue is a concern.
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