Senate approves Sheldon bill to improve fire district financing

Measure would allow large fire districts to hire their own treasurers

OLYMPIA – A bill from Sen. Tim Sheldon that streamlines the financing process for large fire districts cleared the Senate Wednesday on a unanimous 46-0 vote.

Senate Bill 5565 allows larger fire districts with revenues in excess of $10 million annually to utilize their own treasurers for bonding and other purposes, rather than the services of the local county or city treasurer. The bill also applies to regional fire district authorities, in which two or more fire districts share governance.

“This is what we mean when we talk about good-government bills,” said Sheldon, D-Potlatch. “As more fire districts join together to form larger regional fire district authorities, the financial-management requirements become immense. This bill takes the burden from county and city treasurers and allows fire districts to do the job themselves.”

Sheldon said he introduced the bill at the request of Kitsap County fire districts. He noted many other special-purpose districts already are permitted to utilize their own treasurers, including public utility districts, libraries, ports and sewer districts.

The measure allows treasurers to issue warrants approved by district boards and secretaries. Fire district treasurers also would be allowed to make bond payments and issue reports about district financial status.

The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.