MONROE — Voters in the Monroe area are being asked this primary election to merge into a larger fire district.
Monroe’s Fire District 3 and Clearview’s Fire District 7 already joined administrations earlier this year. Their leaders say they’ve been working together for decades and that a complete merger will reduce overhead.
Both districts lost staffing and funding in the recession, and tax revenues are still behind 2009 levels, Monroe Fire Chief Jamie Silva said. Over the years, the two districts have started sharing more resources, including a fire marshal, a map specialist and a finance director.
“When we put ourselves together, we blend well,” Silva said.
Fire department mergers have been a popular idea around Snohomish County in recent years but few proposals survive the politics.
“This is the next wave of what is happening in how fire districts are finding ways to save money,” Monroe Fire Commissioner Bill Snyder said.
If voters approve the measure, Fire District 7 would grow to cover about 110,000 people living on 100 square miles on both sides of the Snohomish River. The annual budget would be about $29 million. Headquarters likely would be moved to Monroe. By law, the change can’t impact property taxes until 2018, and department leaders say they believe the merger will save people money long term.
People who live in what is now District 3 won’t see a difference in day-to-day emergency service, District 7 Fire Chief Gary Meek said. Together, the two districts would have eight fire stations staffed around-the-clock.
“From the 911 calls, it should be seamless,” he said.
Meek is expected to stay fire chief. Silva agreed to take a demotion to assistant chief within the new agency.
Each district also has a board of five elected fire commissioners. The new agency would start with all 10 commissioners and reduce the number to five by 2022 through elections, Silva said.
Both fire districts have a combination of rural and suburban areas. They anticipate population growth north and east of Monroe, and to continue to see the heavy development in south county moving east toward Highway 9.
Public meetings on the ballot measure are set for 8 a.m. Monday at Fire Station 31 along Village Court and noon Tuesday at the same station.
If approved by at least 50 percent of people who cast a ballot, the merger is expected to start Oct. 1.
Fire District 3 has 16,127 registered voters. District 7 has 34,767.
Ballots are being mailed later this week. The election is Aug. 2.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.