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Voters approve merging Monroe Fire with Fire District 7

MONROE — Voters in Monroe approved merging Monroe Fire’s operations into Fire District 7, based in Clearview, by a practical landslide vote.
More than three-fourths of Monroe voters said yes to the merger, which means the two districts will be officially merging sometime in the new year. The two districts already share a shop, a community resource paramedic and administrative offices.
The combined fire districts would serve 110,000 south-central Snohomish County residents once fully merged.
Fire District 7 is the larger of the two districts, currently serving 60,000 residents across 50 square miles. This includes providing Mill Creek fire services under a contract worth $3.8 million. The Mill Creek contract is up for renegotiation this year.
Monroe voters cast their ballots last week on the merger; residents in Fire District 7 did not. The ballot measure was sent to Monroe voters because Fire District 3 petitioned to merge into Fire District 7 and Fire District 7’s fire board accepted.
As the districts finalize the merger, Fire District 3’s Chief Jaime Silva said, they will inform the public what the next steps will be.
A few clues in a financial forecast show that the
merged district have a work-force of about 175 people, of which 141 are firefighters; it would start out with a ten-person elected governing board; and it would operate on about a $33 million
budget in 2017.
Silva will become an assistant chief under Fire District 7 Chief Gary Meek in the merged district.
Silva said Wednesday morning he was thankful to the community and voters.
“This will improve emergency services for both communities (Monroe and Clearview) and be more cost-effective for taxpayers long-term,” Silva said.
Both district’s fire commission boards approved supporting the merger.
The two fire districts began talking about merging late last year.
The sales pitch to Monroe voters was for taxpayers to save money and improve fire services. Fire district officials said the fire department’s property tax rate in Monroe will decrease from a projected $2.10 to a projected $1.98 per $1,000 based on 2016 assessed valuations. The lowered amount is to match Monroe Fire’s rate with the rate in Fire District 7.  The merger will not affect tax rates for people currently living in Fire District 7’s region.
Merging fire districts is nothing new. For example, Mukilteo’s Fire Department once sought to merge into Fire District 1, the largest district in the county.

FD7 EMS levy passes
Voters in Fire District 7 approved boosting the emergency medical services levy back to 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value by about 66 percent to 33 percent.
The levy rate had slipped to 44 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. Voters determine whether to put a levy back to the maximum allowable 50 cent rate.
Voters first approved the 50 cent EMS levy in 2010.

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