EVERETT — Seven cities south of Everett have decided to contract with Snohomish County for emergency management.
The agency that helped them prepare for earthquakes and flooding is shutting its doors.
The changes still are working through the various city councils, said John Pennington, executive director for the county Department of Emergency Management.
Joining are Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway.
Those councils face two steps: approving the dissolution of the former south county emergency management agency, and voting on an interim contract with the county.
State law requires cities to have emergency management. The seven cities needed a new option after their previous provider, the Emergency Services Coordination Agency, known locally as ESCA, decided to disband.
The talks are expected to wrap up by August, Pennington said.
After an interim period this year, long-term contracts are set to start with each city in January, he said.
The county already has those partnerships with 12 other cities and two tribes.
“It will sync everybody up,” he said.
The county expects to hire three or four people as part of the expansion, Pennington said. Those costs would be covered by the projected revenues from the cities’ fees under the new contracts.
It’s all part of creating a long-term countywide system, he said.
South county has its own hazards to be studied, but as with much of the region, earthquakes and flooding are the primary threat, he said.
Meanwhile, ESCA’s volunteer corps likely will join the county as well, said Kerin Steele, the agency’s board chairwoman. Volunteers were ESCA’s “core strength,” she said. They worked at numerous community events and fundraisers, in addition to providing ham-radio communications after the Oso mudslide.
In 2009, one of the ESCA teams received an Award of Excellence from the governor for outstanding volunteer service.
They “put in thousands of hours of volunteer time each year and have for the 30 years ESCA has been around,” said Vickie Fontaine, an ESCA coordinator.
Those volunteers will bring welcome skills to the county, Pennington said.
“This is going to take it to the next level,” he said. “Their expertise and their devotion is going to be utilized throughout the county, not just in certain small segments of the county.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.