Four District 1 firefighters could lose their jobs

EVERETT — Four firefighters from Snohomish County Fire District 1 have been given notices that they could be laid off as early as Feb. 15.

“We hope to come up with a solution before that date to allow these firefighters to stay on the job,” District 1 Fire Chief Ed Widdis said. “They are valued employees who have served our citizens well. Unfortunately, there aren’t any easy answers when we are facing a drop in property tax revenue of more than 12 percent this year with more of the same expected in 2013.”

The district employs 190 firefighters and staffs 12 fire stations around the clock. It serves more than 225,000 people in unincorporated south Snohomish County, Brier, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway.

Property taxes are the primary source of funding for district operations. As home values have declined over the past two years, so have property tax revenues in the fire district.

The district already has made major cutbacks. For instance, nine administrative positions were eliminated in November through a combination of retirements and layoffs.

Widdis said between now and Feb. 15 he will continue to explore other ways to reduce costs without having to make the layoffs.

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