Edmonds City Council members answer questions during an Edmonds City Council Town Hall on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Edmonds City Council members answer questions during an Edmonds City Council Town Hall on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Edmonds wants to hear your thoughts on future of fire services

Residents can comment virtually or in person during an Edmonds City Council public hearing set for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

EDMONDS — Edmonds has just over a year and a half to decide how it will continue to provide fire services.

Next week, residents will have a chance to tell city officials how they think it should be done.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Edmonds City Council meeting in the council chambers, 250 Fifth Ave. N. Residents can sign up to speak online or in person, or submit a written statement to comment on the city’s options for fire service in the future.

In December, South County Fire informed the city it planned to terminate its contract with Edmonds on Dec. 31, 2025.

Soon after, the city paid $44,500 for a study to determine its next actions. A representative from Fitch & Associates, the emergency medical services and fire safety consultants hired to conduct the study, presented three options for fire service after the South County contract ends:

• Be annexed into South County Fire. Estimated cost: $17.8 million per year and a total of $77 monthly for the average household.

• Relaunch the disbanded Edmonds Fire Department. Estimated cost: $19.2 million per year, $79 monthly for the average household.

• Enter into a contract with the Shoreline Fire Department. Estimated cost: $24.9 million per year, $93 monthly for the average household.

Edmonds pays less for fire services than the other cities covered by South County Fire: Mill Creek, Brier, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

In 2010, Edmonds entered into a contract with South County Fire, then known as South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue. Since then, Edmonds’ population has grown and the current agreement no longer fits demand, South County officials said at a City Council meeting last month.

The regional fire authority has to subsidize the city’s payments to keep up with demand, South County Fire Commission Chair Jim Kenny told the council.

“While this agreement served Edmonds well at the time, it falls short in preparing for the community’s evolving needs,” South County Fire Chief Bob Eastman wrote in December.

In 2024, Edmonds paid just over $12 million for fire services. South County estimates it would cost the city $17.8 million if Edmonds annexed into South County, city documents show.

Edmonds is the only city under a separate contract. Unlike the other cities, Edmonds residents don’t directly pay South County Fire. They pay taxes to the city, which then pays the fire authority. If Edmonds were to get annexed, residents would pay taxes directly to the county.

Joining South County could save the city about $6.6 million annually, a representative from Fitch & Associates said last month. It would also require voter approval before 2025.

A contract with the Shoreline Fire Department would need approval from the King County Council, which may be hard to get, Edmonds council member Jenna Nand said at a town hall meeting in April.

“They’re very unlikely to want to subsidize our fire services,” she said.

Participate virtually

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/J/95798484261

Submit a written statement via Edmonds’ online public comment form.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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