Cooper elected chair of Regional Fire Authority Planning Committee

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By Harry Gatjens

The Regional Fire Authority Planning Committee had its first meeting Tuesday night, and Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper was elected to chair the group.

The Washington State Legislature in 2005 enacted a law that permits municipalities to combine resources and personnel to provide fire and emergency medical services on a regional basis. Representatives of several local municipalities have been talking for a while about pursuing the idea, and on Jan. 31 held an information meeting for those interested in learning more. The consensus at the end of that meeting was to form the planning committee that met Tuesday in Edmonds.

During the meeting, organizers set up the rules for the committee’s work and the structure.  It was decided that each of the involved organizations would get just one vote per group, regardless of the number of representatives particpating in the planning process. Participating organizations are Snohomish County Fire Districts 1 and 7, the town of Woodway, and the cities of Brier, Mountlake Terrace, Lynwood, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Mill Creek.

The committee also formed three subcommittees: Communications, Level of Service and Finance. Each of the involved organizations can appoint one person to each committee. In addition, each of the three unions representing workers in the member organizations can have  a subcommittee representative, although they will be non-voting members.

Future Regional Fire Authority Planning Committee meetings will be held  monthly in locations rotating among the members.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I attended the meeting and can attest that Harry’s summary is accurate.

    There is much to consider before making a decision to become a member of an RFA. In fact the RFA Planning Committee expects their work will take up to two years. To help make the right decision for Edmonds requires the active participation of all three of our committee members – Mayor Cooper, Council Members Wilson and Petso. So far Ms Petso is batting .000. She has failed to show up for both of the meetings. All of the other 9 jurisdictions have been fully represented. Her absence is a dis-service and an embarrassment to our city.

  2. The primary intent of the Regional Fire Authority (RFA) is double tax the citizens and business owners for fire service provided the votes pass a RFA ballot measure. This will be accomplished by the cities treating the existing fire service as a “wind fall” and keeping the revenue in their general funds and again taxing the citizens and business for fire service under Ch 52.26 RCW. These new taxes could well exceed the existing taxes due to a special benefit service provision whereby business could be taxes in excess of their current rate. This was confirmed by representatives from Kent, WA where they stated that business in their area took significants “hits” under there Regional Fire Authority. During the first RFA meeting Mayor Cooper indicated that….this (RFA) is about more and bigger and if you are here for more efficient etc. then this is not the place for you…. or words to that effect. Edmonds is a Fire Protection Class 4 and is looking to be a class 3, Mill Creek and FD 7 recently improved from a class 4 to 3, Mulkiteo is a class 4, and Lynnwood is a Fire Protection Class 4. These are very good rating for the size of cities involved, resources available, and demonstrates that they are providing a very good level of service. The RFA if approved by the voters will also result in a bail out for the fire service as they have maxed out their taxing authority for over 10 years and in the case of FD 7 has close to $7 million dollars in cash reserves.

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