Evan Smith: Shoreline not likely to be part of new fire entity

Thursday, February 3, 2011

By Evan Smith
ShorelineAreaNews Politics Writer

Shoreline’s fire chief and two Fire District commissioners went to a meeting with representatives from two Snohomish County fire districts and at least nine cities Monday, but Chief Mark Bunje says that the Shoreline Fire District has no interest in joining any regional fire authority that south Snohomish County cities might form.

A regional fire authority is a government body that runs fire services for multiple jurisdictions. Fire authorities have developed in Washington since the State authorized them in 2004.

Officials in Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway have expressed interest in forming such an entity.

They called the Monday meeting to learn about regional fire authorities, and invited officials from several adjoining jurisdictions to attend, including the Shoreline Fire District, Snohomish County fire districts 1 and 7, and the cities of Bothell and Everett.

People at the meeting listened to officials from Auburn and Kent, two cities that are part of a regional fire authority that serves those two cities and one nearby smaller community.

Unlike fire districts, regional fire authorities are allowed to cross county lines. Still, Bunje told me Tuesday, Shoreline fire officials have no interest in joining a regional fire authority with the Snohomish County cities.

Bunje said that he and Fire District Commissioners Jim Fisher and David Harris attended the meeting merely to learn about what neighboring communities are doing.

He said that the Snohomish County cities are looking at combining out of economic necessity but that Shoreline isn’t under as much financial stress.

He said that if the Shoreline District were to combine with any other entity it would be with the Northshore Fire District, which serves Lake Forest Park and Kenmore.

The two districts considered merging many years ago, before Shoreline or Kenmore had incorporated, he said, adding that such a merger would be complicated now, with three municipalities to deal with.

Bunje said that having a fire district that serves only one city helps citizens identify with the district.

The Shoreline Fire District covers the same area as the City of Shoreline, but it is a separate entity with its own five-member elected board and its own tax base.


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