(1) A territory located within reasonable proximity to a fire protection district and not within the boundaries of a city, town, or other fire protection district may be annexed to the fire protection district by petition of fifteen percent of the qualified registered electors residing within the territory proposed to be annexed. Such territory may be located in a county or counties other than the county or counties within which the fire protection district is located. The petition shall be filed with the fire commissioners of the fire protection district and if the fire commissioners concur in the petition they shall file the petition with the county auditor of the county within which the territory is located. If this territory is located in more than one county, the original petition shall be filed with the auditor of the county within which the largest portion of the territory is located, who shall be designated as the lead auditor, and a copy shall be filed with the auditor of each other county within which such territory is located. Within thirty days after the date of the filing of the petition the auditor shall examine the signatures on the petition and certify to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures. If this territory is located in more than one county, the auditor of each other county who receives a copy of the petition shall examine the signatures and certify to the lead auditor the number of valid signatures and the number of registered voters residing in that portion of the territory that is located within the county. The lead auditor shall certify the sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures.
After the county auditor has certified the sufficiency of the petition, the county legislative authority or authorities, or the boundary review board or boards, of the county or counties in which such territory is located shall consider the proposal under the same basis that a proposed incorporation of a fire protection district is considered, with the same authority to act on the proposal as in a proposed incorporation, as provided under chapter 52.02
RCW. If the proposed annexation is approved by the county legislative authority or boundary review board, the board of fire commissioners shall adopt a resolution requesting the county auditor to call a special election, as specified under RCW 29A.04.330
, at which the ballot proposition is to be submitted. No annexation shall occur when the territory proposed to be annexed is located in more than one county unless the county legislative authority or boundary review board of each county approves the proposed annexation.
(2) The county legislative authority or authorities of the county or counties within which such territory is located have the authority and duty to determine on an equitable basis, the amount of any obligation which the territory to be annexed to the district shall assume to place the property owners of the existing district on a fair and equitable relationship with the property owners of the territory to be annexed as a result of the benefits of annexing to a district previously supported by the property owners of the existing district. If a boundary review board has had its jurisdiction invoked on the proposal and approves the proposal, the county legislative authority of the county within which such territory is located may exercise the authority granted in this subsection and require such an assumption of indebtedness. This obligation may be paid to the district in yearly benefit charge installments to be fixed by the county legislative authority. This benefit charge shall be collected with the annual tax levies against the property in the annexed territory until fully paid. The amount of the obligation and the plan of payment established by the county legislative authority shall be described in general terms in the notice of election for annexation and shall be described in the ballot proposition on the proposed annexation that is presented to the voters for their approval or rejection. Such benefit charge shall be limited to an amount not to exceed a total of fifty cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the special election on the proposed annexation shall be held only within the boundaries of the territory proposed to be annexed to the fire protection district.
(3) On the entry of the order of the county legislative authority incorporating the territory into the existing fire protection district, the territory shall become subject to the indebtedness, bonded or otherwise, of the existing district. If the petition is signed by sixty percent of the qualified registered electors residing within the territory proposed to be annexed, and if the board of fire commissioners concur, an election in the territory and a hearing on the petition shall be dispensed with and the county legislative authority shall enter its order incorporating the territory into the existing fire protection district.