Issaquah City Council balks at joining regional fire authority

August 2, 2011

Issaquah is all but certain not to participate in a regional fire authority, due to concerns about higher property tax bills for city homeowners.

On July 26, City Council members indicated Issaquah should not proceed in the formation of a regional fire authority. Unlike Eastside Fire & Rescue, a regional fire authority could tax residents to fund emergency services.

Officials from Issaquah and rural fire districts formed a planning group in late 2009 to consider a regional fire authority in the EFR service area.

“We did that so we were at the table and could participate in the discussion as we went through a process,” Councilman Fred Butler said at a Committee-of-the-Whole Council meeting. “We’re at the point right now where, I think, it’s fairly obvious which way we want to go. It’s not to our benefit or to our citizens’ benefit.”

Contributions from member cities and fire districts fund EFR. Issaquah contributes about $5 million per year to the agency.

Issaquah homeowners contribute 76 cents per $1,000 in assessed value for emergency services under the existing arrangement.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue board balks at price tag for proposed headquarters remodel

July 26, 2011

Within minutes of resolving to work out their differences so that Eastside Fire & Rescue could exist past its current 2014 expiration date, the fire agency’s board of directors grappled with a thorny issue as old as the agency itself.

Fire officials are pushing the agency’s partners to chip in for a remodel and expansion of the headquarters building, located on Newport Way Northwest in Issaquah.

In March, Deputy Chief Wes Collins proposed reconfiguring the inside of the building to add seven offices, a conference room, copy room and an upstairs women’s bathroom, as well as a storage building for EFR equipment that currently sits outside.

That plan’s approximately $500,000 price tag was a nonstarter for representatives from Sammamish, Issaquah and North Bend, some of whom questioned the wisdom of committing their taxpayers’ money to permanent improvements to a building that belongs to King County Fire District 10.

A hazy future for the agency also didn’t help.

Some partners were involved in discussions about an independent taxing authority for fire service and the agency’s interlocal agreement allows partners to withdraw from EFR in 2014.

Sammamish had never been interested in joining a fire authority, and discussions appear dead on arrival for cities like Issaquah, which would see a nearly 40 percent increase in the cost of its fire service, according to projections.

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Proposed fire authority receives cool reception from cities

March 15, 2011

Issaquah, Sammamish leaders also raise concerns about pools at joint meeting

The potential regional fire authority for Eastside communities received a lukewarm reception from Issaquah and Sammamish leaders March 10, as city councils from both cities discussed planning for emergency services and other issues at a joint meeting.

Officials from Issaquah and rural fire districts formed a planning group in late 2009 to consider a regional fire authority in the Eastside Fire & Rescue service area. The authority could tax residents to fund emergency services, unlike EFR. Contributions from member cities and fire districts fund EFR.

“It’s really hard to see a scenario where you can provide fire service to the citizens of Issaquah with an RFA,” Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet said as leaders from both cities met at Tibbetts Creek Manor.

Participation in the planning process does not commit Issaquah or the fire districts to joining a regional fire authority.

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Cities name regional fire district, animal control top concerns

March 16, 2010

Issaquah and Sammamish city council members met last week for a wide-ranging discussion about the challenges faced by the neighboring cities.

Talk about Klahanie Park, how the cities will provide animal-control services after June 30 and the future of emergency services dominated the March 9 meeting at Sammamish City Hall.

With county-run animal shelters set to end June 30, members of both city councils said no proposal exists yet to provide the services now handled by King County Animal Care and Control. Although, representatives from both cities said staffers continue to work on a solution.

A solution could result in a regional partnership among several cities, or individual cities could commission animal-control officers. Federal Way officials, for instance, announced a plan to form a city animal-services agency.

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