King County Fire District 27 Fire Chief Chris Connors said the merger will come before voters during the April 23 special election. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

King County Fire District 27 Fire Chief Chris Connors said the merger will come before voters during the April 23 special election. Evan Pappas/Staff Photo

Fall City voters will decide on fire district merger on April 23

Fire District 27 may merge with Eastside Fire and Rescue’s District 10 after the upcoming election.

A change in fire district services for Fall City could be coming soon. Fire District 27, also known as the Fall City Fire Department, may merge with Eastside Fire and Rescue’s District 10 after the upcoming Spring election.

A proposition to approve the merger will come before the residents of the district at the April 23 special election. The resolution to merge district 27 into district 10 has been proposed as a way to improve funding and service levels and would allow more collaboration between fire departments in Eastside Fire and Rescue’s coverage area.

Fall City Fire Department Chief Chris Connor said the merger would also improve funding for the district by changing the way taxes are collected. The district is funded by excess levies every four years because the regular levy does not bring in enough to support operations. If that excess levy fails, the district would have to reduce service.

In 2010, the city of Sammamish annexed a portion of Fire District 27’s coverage area into the city, meaning residents’ taxes no longer contributed to supporting the fire district. With that loss of tax base, discussions around possible consolidation began, with an independent consultant suggesting consolidation options in 2010 and the formation of a consolidation committee.

The new structure would reduce the regular levy from $1.20 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1. Instead of an additional maintenance and operations levy, which in 2019 is $0.36 per $1,000, a Fire Benefit Charge would be charged based on improvements to properties.

According to Connor, 78 percent of properties in the district would see a “slight to great reduction in the costs they pay.” A majority of commercial properties will see an increase in their fee. Of the 62 commercial properties in District 10, 41 will have an increase and 21 will be decreased, he said.

If approved, Connor said Fall City Fire would get service benefits such as consistent staffing. They would have three career firefighters on duty at all times. In addition to equipment and vehicles provided by a larger organization like EFR, Fall City Firefighters would have access to more training opportunities to improve the quality of the service they provide.

Fall City Fire also would gain access to EFR’s wildland firefighting, technical rescue and hazardous materials teams as part of their Special Operations Division.

Connor expanded on some community concerns, such as the district’s representation in EFR as they have about 3,800 registered voters compared to district 10’s 15,000. The merger also would change the administrative roles. The fire chief would have an equivalent role within EFR but would not remain the chief of Fall City’s fire department. Today, Connor said, citizens can drop by the station if they would like to speak with him, but after the merger, appointments would be necessary.

The volunteer program will change as well. The three career firefighters means volunteers won’t be able to fill in those roles where gaps existed before.

Connor also addressed a rumor that the fire station would be shut down, saying the rumor is incorrect and has never been a part of the merger discussions. The fire station’s location on 334th Place SE in Fall City is an ideal location to service areas in the district in any direction, he said.

The question to merge District 27 with District 10 will come before voters during King County’s April 23 special election. The vote requires a simple majority to pass. More information is available on the King County Elections website or Fire District 27’s official site

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