Updated: Apr 3
Correction update 4/3/2021
Editor's Note: The original post on this issue was based on information provided by Catherine Breault, Public Information Officer for Woodinville Fire & Rescue who responded to an email sent to Wendy Booth, PIO for Northshore Fire Department. In her response, Breault stated:
"The Northshore Board of Fire Commissioners briefly paused the process in early March to address union concerns. No firefighters would lose jobs in this merger. Both Boards remain dedicated to addressing the union's concerns and reaching an amicable agreement without pay or benefit loss. The proposed merger with Woodinville Fire continues to be on the ballot with a majority of the Northshore Board members in agreement."
Based on that statement the headline read Northshore Fire District supports Prop 1 and the rest of the post was based on a March 3, 2021 press release. After publication, Kenmore City Councilmember Debra Srebnik contacted me and informed me that, "At the joint (Northshore-Woodinville) Fire Commissioner meeting on March 16, a majority of the Northshore contingent (2 of the 3) voted to NOT support the merger ballot measure until they could get agreement with the union (however I believe of the 5 total commissioners there is at least one (Dave Maehren) or more that are still supporting the merger)."
On March 22, the Kenmore City Council approved a resolution against the merger as well because it does not have the support of either the union or the majority of Northshore Fire Commissioners that are on the joint commission.
Original post –
On April 27, 2021, the voters of Northshore Fire Department will be asked whether to approve a merger with Woodinville Fire & Rescue.
“Merging our two fire districts means better service for less cost,” said Northshore Interim Fire Chief Greg Ahearn. “This merger is in the best interest of the people we serve, and that’s what we are focused on.” Chief Ahearn also serves as Fire Chief for Woodinville Fire & Rescue. The agencies have been sharing some administrative personnel and departments since February 2020 under an interlocal agreement.
The Northshore Fire Department is asking its voters to approve merging with Woodinville Fire & Rescue during the April 27, 2021 Special Election. If approved by voters, property owners in Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and Woodinville would immediately see an improvement in emergency services and pay less in taxes starting in 2022.
If the merger passes, Northshore property owners would save a projected $0.11 per $1,000 of assessed property value or 8.5% of the effective tax rate. Woodinville property owners would save a projected $0.07 per $1,000 or 5.6%. These are conservative estimates prepared by an independent third-party financial firm and are based on the most current data available.
More efficient use of emergency personnel also could save taxpayers on overtime costs, which were nearly $1.8 million for both agencies in 2020. If the agencies were combined in the month of February, overtime savings alone would have exceeded $22,000.
The merger initiative is scheduled for the April 27, 2021 Special Election. More information on the proposed merger can be found on the fire districts’ websites at www.northshorefire.com or www.wf-r.org. Fire Chief Greg Ahearn also welcomes questions about the proposed merger at GAhearn@northshorefire.com.