Fire District 1 fights annexation efforts

EVERETT – As the Everett City Council votes today on the proposed Airport Road annexation, Snohomish Fire District 1 says it may fight another annexation attempt west of Hilton Lake.

The council June 16 gave preliminary approval to annexing a 95-acre, 208-home area southeast of the city limits.

If the council and then a state-appointed Boundary Review Board give further approval to the plan, the fire district may challenge it in court, said District 1 Chief Ed Widdis.

District 1 already is in court over a proposed annexation of the Murphy’s Corner neighborhood, a 142-acre area of 206 homes and several businesses – including a Fred Meyer – between Everett’s Silver Lake and Mill Creek. The annexation plan won at the superior and appellate court levels; the state Supreme Court is deciding whether to take the case.

Widdis said that, in both annexation attempts, the district is worried about losing tax revenue. The district would lose at least $54,000 a year in tax revenue from Murphy’s Corner, he said.

Murphy’s Corner resident Court Sheehan, who is leading the annexation drive there, said he’s frustrated by District 1’s court challenge. He wants his neighborhood to become part of Everett mostly to get better police protection. The Everett Police Department has more than twice as many officers per capita as does the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

“District 1 has used our tax dollars to fight what we want,” Sheehan said. “The homeowners, we’re the ones who pay the taxes. All they’re trying to do is protect their turf.”

Widdis said annexations whittle away money the fire district needs to protect residents in its service area, which stretches to the King County line. He said the district has spent about $10,000 on legal costs on the case.

Widdis said he wants to talk with city officials about hammering out agreements that would allow annexations to go through unchallenged if the district could keep serving residents – and keep getting the tax revenue.

Another option would be to let all residents vote on the annexations, he said. All three annexations the city is reviewing involve a petition method that only includes people who own property.

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