EFR’s future needs quick action

October 17, 2013

By Administrator

If the partners of Eastside Fire & rescue don’t act quickly, they may be too late to salvage the partnership that has served them so well for many years.

For the past few years, Sammamish has been warning its partners in Eastside Fire & Rescue that the current funding model was unsustainable. The formula, based solely on assessed value – while ignoring the number of calls for service – has had Sammamish and Fire Districts 10 and 38 subsidizing fire and emergency services for Issaquah and North Bend.

Sammamish was lobbying for a new funding model based half on property value and half on calls, but other partners were not interested. Sammamish then proposed a 75/25 formula. North Bend was willing to go along, but Issaquah and Fire District 10 were still opposed.

Sammamish held firm, investing time and money studying the costs of dropping out of EFR to start its own city fire department. Sammamish is poised to take a vote on the measure soon and move one step closer to withdrawing from the EFR consortium.

Now the partners may begin to discuss the merits of a 75/25 plan at their own agencies. They should do so and make their decision quickly.

Yes, some will end up paying more, but they’ve been getting a good ride on the back of the Sammamish taxpayers for years. Paying a little more to help make the situation more equitable is the right thing to do.

EFR has been a success. Pooling resources has allowed each community to serve their citizens better than they would be able to by going it alone. The partners should end the squabbling and get back to making EFR a better agency.

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