Everett council says to keep going on Everett-Snohomish fire agency pairing
EVERETT — City Council members support continuing to have Everett Fire look into joining forces with Snohomish Fire under a regional fire authority (RFA).
Snohomish Fire’s board will hold a similar discussion this month.
Everett Fire is about three times larger than Fire District 4, but there are many similarities, including firefighter pay rates.
Everett Fire’s Chief Dave DeMarco began soliciting nearby fire departments about pairing up to create a regional fire authority last year.
An exploratory committee on the idea discussed multiple angles during April.
Among them is weighing introducing a fire benefits charge, which is a fee on top of the property tax levy, to add more funding.
The fire benefit charge intrigued council members last week. DeMarco said it could be applied to places that create higher fire risks such as the Boeing factory. The city is investigating if a fire benefit charge could be applied to the Port of Everett.
These risk costs are currently borne by all residents through city fire taxes,
Council President Brenda Stonecipher called that inequitable. “At the end of the day, single family residential is subsidizing those users,” Stonecipher said last week.
For Everett, a RFA would remove the city Fire Department from being a piece of the city’s general budget.
The conversations could go all the way to the end and still result in the two fire services breaking off talks, DeMarco noted.
If paired up, the end result would be a fire district that protects 107.9 square miles in which about 144,000 people live and has about 260 employees. (Fire District 4 today protects 60 square miles and 32,000 residents; its boundaries are bigger than just Snohomish city limits.)
For comparison, Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue — once known as Fire District 7 — protects 110,000 people living within 98.5 square miles in central and east Snohomish County, including the communities of Monroe, Maltby, Clearview and Mill Creek. It has about 300 employees.
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