Fire District 1, Lynnwood want to merge emergency services

EVERETT — Snohomish County Fire District 1 and the Lynnwood Fire Department are seeking voter approval for a merger.

They want to create a new government body called a regional fire authority. The authority would collect its own taxes to provide fire protection and emergency medical care.

Supporters say the move would streamline emergency services and make better use of public resources. Critics, particularly in Lynnwood, say they won’t have enough control.

If approved, the fire authority could be formed as soon as October.

The proposal calls for a interim governing board of seven, including two elected officials from Lynnwood. The plan eventually is to have a board of two at-large seats and five seats for geographic districts by 2021.

Lynnwood and District 1 firefighters work together on about 6,000 incidents a year. They also have been sharing management under a contract, including Fire Chief Brad Reading.

“It just makes sense to become one and do it together and more efficiently,” Reading said.

So what happens with taxes? Lynnwood City Hall can expect to see less revenue and spending in its overall budget when it stops providing direct fire service.

District 1 has a fire levy and an EMS levy. The city has an EMS levy, and the fire department also draws from the general fund.

The fire authority likely would seek its own tax measures in time. Under state law, it cannot change the rates without a public vote.

Jim Kenny, a District 1 commissioner, helped write the “pro” statement for the measure on the voters pamphlet. He says it makes sense to take a regional approach.

“Con” statement authors included Ted Hikel, a frequent critic of Lynnwood leadership who used to be on the council. He says he is not convinced the city will have enough representation or paramedic service with the fire authority. He says it would be “dominated by the fire district.”

Labor leaders are in favor of the merger. That includes Thad Hovis, president of District 1’s Local 1828, and Scott DiBenedetto, president of Lynnwood’s Local 1984.

They say the fire authority will save money and reduce response times.

To pass, the measure needs 50 percent of ballots cast from Lynnwood and the district combined. The cities that contract with District 1 for service — Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace — don’t get to vote on the measure. They keep their current arrangement with the option of annexation.

Fire authorities are gaining popularity in Washington. Snohomish County has one so far, with headquarters in Stanwood. Another is being considered for Arlington and Marysville.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Fire and EMS levies on the Aug. 1 ballot in Snohomish County

Marysville: The city of Marysville seeks a lid lift for its emergency medical services levy. The money, which is collected within city limits, goes to the Marysville Fire District for EMS. The rate would be up to 50 cents per $1,000 of property value. The rate could be adjusted annually within that limit through 2023.

Monroe: Fire District 7, with offices in Clearview and Monroe, seeks a levy lid lift. The rate would be $1.50 per $1,000 of property value. The money goes toward fire protection and emergency services. The rate cannot increase without voter approval.

Snohomish: Fire District 4 in Snohomish seeks a levy lid lift. The rate would be up to $1.50 per $1,000 of property value. The money goes toward services, staffing and equipment. The levy would last from 2018-2023.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Monroe High School with (inset) a Facebook video screenshot from Nov. 10, 2021, which showed a white student repeatedly using racial slurs in a confrontation with a Black student.
‘It makes me angry’: Black students in Monroe report persistent racism

“Please help stop this racism,” a first-grade student told the Monroe school board Monday. Other kids reported racist slurs.

Zachary Robbins
Marysville superintendent could start a month early

A June start means Zachary Robbins could weigh in on a $13.5 million budget shortfall and a parental consent policy for clubs.

Arlington
Driver dies after rollover crash at Smokey Point

The deceased man, 25, reportedly sped off from police before crashing into a nearby utility pole. A woman, 19, was injured.

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2020, file photo, a Washington state Department of Agriculture worker holds two of the dozens of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a tree in Blaine, Wash. Authorities say they've found the first Asian giant hornet nest of 2021 in a rural area east of Blaine. State entomologists will now develop a plan to eradicate the nest. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Scientists will set 1,000 traps for murder hornets this year

Asian giant hornets, first detected in 2019, are are believed to be confined in Whatcom County.

Lynnwood City Council member George Hurst moves to postpone action on the vehicle license fees ordinance during the council's meeting Monday. (Screenshot/City of Lynnwood)
Lynnwood to keep collecting a car tab fee and utility tax, for now

City Council members will consider repealing them in October when they write a new city budget.

Epic Ford on the corner of 52nd Street and Evergreen Way in Everett is closed. The dealership has been in business for more than 50 years. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
After 50 years, Everett’s Epic Ford dealership closes shop

It opened in 1971, when gas guzzling muscle cars like the Ford Mustang still ruled the road.

Lyon Torns enters the courtroom for his sentencing Wednesday afternoon in the Snohomish County Superior Courtroom in Everett, Washington on May 25, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett man gets 19 years in fatal Marysville shooting

Lyon “Nick” Torns sold fentanyl to Jason Castle, 42. In November 2020, Torns shot and killed him, then fled to Las Vegas.

Ian Saltzman
School leaders in Everett, Mukilteo districts receive raises

Superintendents Ian Saltzman in Everett and Alison Brynelson in Mukilteo secured contract extensions through 2025.

Brace for Memorial Day weekend traffic and long ferry lines

Leave at non-peak hours to avoid road congestion and ferry backups. The passes will be busy, too.

Most Read