Members of the South Bay community are welcome to attend our Citizens Advisory Team. The purpose of the group is to provide input to the Board on pertinent issues. The next meeting will be announced.
The Citizens Advisory Team provided input to the District regarding the recent Petition to Merge presented by North Olympia FD7. Read more here.
Here are some FAQs for residents of the South Bay Fire District about the merger with North Olympia Fire District 7.
Development of the Citizens Advisory Group:
As part of the March 22nd and 25th public meetings held by our Board regarding the North Olympia FD7 Petition for Merger, we solicited members for a 2014 Citizens Advisory Group.
The Chief compiled a final report addressing questions from the meetings. He promised to 1) send out notes with responses to the questions we received on the cards that were distributed during the meetings, 2) post a copy of the slides used in the presentations and 3) to send out an official invite to any interested citizens for the kick-off of our District citizens’ advisory committee.
1–Presentation 22 25 Mar: (in PDF format) is a copy of the slides as presented.
2–Questions/comments captured from the cards submitted during the public meetings:
Question: What creative cost saving measures are being taken or considered?
Answer: The merger will allow redundant expenditures to be eliminated (duplicate support services such as fire chief, district secretary, legal counsel, insurance, office costs), which for the most part, will be re-allocated to Incident Readiness & Response resources. The Emergency Services Integration Plan provides more background on how this will be accomplished, however, it should be noted that a significant portion of staffing is with volunteer resources providing a cost saving for labor.
Question: Unclear about unstaffed fire station? It was on the ballot last time. Some kind of dispute? Answer: This is a possible reference to FD8’s plan to replace two unstaffed firestations (Johnson Point and Puget Road) with a new firestation capable of housing responders. A ballot measure in 2011 to provide for general obligation bonds to pay for the new firestation failed, and construction of the facility was placed on hold for up to five years and to review the plan annually as a part of the District Budget process. In 2014, the county approved the zoning for the firestation. There was a dispute in the neighborhood about the location and environmental impacts of the firestation.
Question: How is this going to affect response times? Do we currently have staffing fire stations 24/7 or is that a plan for the future?
Answer: Response times should improve with the implementation of measures outlined in the Emergency Services Integration Plan. With efficiencies offered through the combination, additional resources can be allocated to the Incident Readiness & Response program. Both Station 7-1 (Gull Harbor) and 8-1 (South Bay) are staffed 24-hour per day now, and staffing will be buttressed with primarily career staff during daytime hours and volunteers staff during nights and weekends. In addition, FD8 will continue its program to provide temporary staffing at Station 8-2 (Johnson Point) as it is able to do so. FD8 has also recently arranged for an interim automatic response from Lacey FD3’s Station 3-5 (Willamette Drive) to help provide a quicker response in the Marvin Road side of the District.
Question: How many responding volunteers does Dist 7 currently have and what is the projected census by Jan 1, 2015?
Answer: The number of 20 was listed on the slide presented in the public presentations; this number can vary with volunteers coming and going. The target for full volunteer staffing of a combined post-merger FD8 is 90 volunteers on Incident Readiness & Response shifts and 10 or so volunteers not assigned to a shift.
Question: We need a new firestation (closing down the 2 others that are too expensive to repair & bring up to code). There is money set aside to do this w/ minimal additional taxpayer expense. Will this money stay solely in Dist 8 for this purpose? Is there a way to protect the $ so D-8 taxpayers can be assured that this money is used solely for this purpose?
Answer: The Board adopted Resolution 14-02 at their April 17th regular meeting that will reaffirm the purpose of those funds.
Question: Do you see any potential for the merger itself to cause property taxes to rise for D-8 residents?
Answer: The current FD8 levy rate (property tax per thousand dollars of assessed real property valuation) is $1.50. The current levy rate for FD7 is $1.34. State law (RCW 82.55.092) prescribes how the tax levy is adjusted in a fire district merger with differing levy rates. In the case of FD7 merging into FD8 in 2014, the estimated resulting “merger” levy rate in 2015 would be $1.43 per thousand. Any increase in the levy rate and additional taxes (an excess levy) would need to be approved by voters. In order to keep pace with rising costs, it is anticipated that voters will be asked to restore the levy rate to $1.50.
Question: Is this a “place holder” for compliance with the State environmental policy act? No EIS needed.
Answer: A SEPA review is required by the lead agency (WAC 197-11-960) to reach a threshold determination (WAC 197-11-922-948); the determination resulting from such review is required for the application to the local Boundary Review Board (RCW 43.21C.222) Notice of Intention.
3–Community Advisory Committee meeting scheduling: The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 30th from 5-6 pm. The proposed agenda will include a basic discussion on the organization of the committee (including a permanent name), general frequency of meeting, appointment of a chair or co-chairs (as desired) and any other topics that members may wish to discuss. One topic of current interest is the merger with FD7, and will most likely be discussed. The Chief will be present and one of our fire commissioners will be present as liaison with the committee.