Shoreline and Northshore fire departments ask voters for levy increase and regional fire authority

Thursday, June 20, 2024

By Oliver Moffat

The Shoreline and Northshore Fire Department commissioners met on Monday, June 17, 2024 to discuss merging the departments together into a Regional Fire Authority (RFA).

A simple majority of voters in Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Woodway would need to approve the RFA in a ballot measure planned for February of 2025.

The levy rate across the RFA would need to be the same but currently Shoreline’s levy rate is higher than Northshore’s.

“It’s been twenty years since the fire levy has been reset,” said Fire Chief Matt Cowan about Northshore’s tax rate. And since then, the expenses of running a fire department and the assessed values of properties in Kenmore and Lake Forest Park have increased significantly.

As a result, Northshore has been increasing the Fire Benefit Charge to keep up with costs.

Which is why, said Chief Cowan, the department will be asking Lake Forest Park and Kenmore voters to approve a levy increase with a ballot measure in August.

“We’re going to decrease the Fire Benefit Charge and increase the fire levy. But roughly to the same equivalent levy rate. So tax payers may not see an increase at all,” said Chief Cowan.

According to data shared by Chief Cowan at the meeting, an RFA could reduce costs, potentially lowering levy rates for all taxpayers.

Since 2022, Northshore has paid Shoreline about $13.6 million per year to provide services under a contract but the two fire departments have separate elected commissioners. All employees work for the Shoreline Fire Department, are in a single chain of command, and belong to the same union.

In May, Bothell signed an agreement with the Shoreline Fire Department to provide administration services, essentially hiring Cowan to serve as the Fire Chief for the Bothell Fire Department. Bothell called the agreement, “part of an ongoing exploration into the possibility of further regionalization in the future.”

Information on how to attend future fire commissioner meetings and provide comments is available on the department’s website.


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