Annexation could change amount city pays to EFR

May 11, 2010

By J.B. Wogan

When Sammamish officials decided to let the Aldarra and Montaine neighborhoods join the city, they created a revenue problem for the Fall City Fire Department.

Those neighborhoods are served by the Fall City department. After coming into Sammamish, they would normally be served by Eastside Fire & Rescue.

As a result, Fall City Fire, officially called King County Fire District 27, would lose out on an estimated $125,081 in 2010 property tax revenue when the neighborhoods join Sammamish.

Now, Ben Yazici, Sammamish city manager, is trying to negotiate a temporary fix, which would save the district all but about $6,000 of that money.

Sammamish would pay Fall City Fire to be the first responder to calls from the Aldarra and Montaine neighborhoods through 2012.

In that scenario, Aldarra and Montaine would be the only two neighborhoods in Sammamish that would receive a lower level of service. Fall City uses two-person companies, while EFR uses three-person companies on a fire engine responding to basic emergency medical calls and basic fire investigations.

The contract proposed by Yazici and city staff is far from a done deal, though.

Contracting with Fall City Fire would require a change in Sammamish’s agreement with EFR, keeping about $48,140 per year out of EFR’s coffers for two years.

The added cost of providing fire protection service to the Aldarra and Montaine neighborhoods would be the same, regardless of who the city pays for that service.

That money would lower the cost of fire protection for Issaquah and King County Fire District 10 by $10,508 and $37,632, respectively.

Under the contract proposal, neither Issaquah nor District 10 would see lowered costs for two years.

Sammamish is scheduled to make its case for allowing the exception at the EFR board meeting May 13.

The full eight-person EFR board, made up of three King County fire district commissioners and five City Council members from the cities of Sammamish, North Bend and Issaquah, would have to approve the agreement unanimously.

The annexation and Sammamish’s proposed contract still leave Fall City Fire in a precarious financial situation.

At a March Sammamish City Council meeting, Eric Hollis, a fire commissioner from Fall City Fire, said the Aldarra and Montaine neighborhoods represent only about 5 percent of his department’s coverage area, but about 21 percent of its $1.4 million in property tax levy revenue.

Even after the $125,000 contract with Sammamish and raising property taxes to the maximum amount — $1.50 per $1,000 of home value — the Fall City Fire Department would collect about $10,000 a year less than it currently does, Hollis said.

But Fall City Fire will take what it can get, according to Hollis.

“We would be happy with what’s been proposed,” he said.

The neighborhoods whose fire service provider is in question are located outside of the southeast corner of city limits straddling Duthie Hill Road. If annexed, they would increase the city in size by 93.3 acres and in population by about 832 people.

The annexation isn’t official yet. The King County Boundary Review Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the request May 18.

If the review board gives its blessing, then the Sammamish City Council would vote one more time to pass the annexation. The city estimates that the annexation could take place as early as July 10.

J.B. Wogan: 392-6434, ext. 247, or Comment on this story at

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