City moves toward fire annexation

Published on Thu, Jun 26, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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City moves toward fire annexation

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

Following a public meeting last Thursday discussing Blaine annexing into fire district 13, Blaine city council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday evening that stated the city�s intention to annex.

The city of Blaine and fire officials held a public meeting last week at the new Odell Road fire station to discuss the annexation with the public and to present an update on the current status between Blaine and fire district 13.

�We�re a little disappointed there aren�t more citizens from Blaine and Birch Bay here,� Tomsic said to the audience of firefighters, and city and fire officials. �I don�t know if that�s good or bad.�

The question that needs to be addressed and answered fairly soon, Tomsic said, is the relationship between fire district 13 and the city of Blaine.

Discussion of the present interlocal agreement began in 1995, and by 1999, the city of Blaine and fire district 13 entered into the agreement, which essentially says that the district provides fire service to the city of Blaine for five years. The city is now in its fourth year of the five-year contract. Prior to 1999, the city had been running its own fire department.

The agreement states that �the district and the city recognize that a successful contractual relationship should be converted to a more permanent alliance as soon as possible. Therefore, no later than one year from the commencement date of the agreement, the district and the city will begin annexation discussions. Costs for all annexation work shall be jointly approved and shared equally by each party.�

Tomsic said the options the city has now are to stay, annex or break the contract. �The service we have today is better than the service we had prior to April of 1999,� he said. �In my opinion it�s been successful.�

Tomsic said he did not feel breaking the contract was something the city wanted to do, and there was a consensus among city officials that annexing was the direction they�d be heading in.

Several days later, at Monday evening�s city council meeting, the council voted to head towards annexation, passing a resolution unanimously. Prior to voting, members of the council commented � most just stating their agreement with the intent to annex.

�I suppose we should proceed at a deliberate pace to allow the firefighters to organize a campaign,� councilman Ken Ely said, about the timing of the vote.

Councilwoman Bonnie Onyon expressed a concern with loss of operations and monetary control once the city annexes, however she still agreed to move forward with the intent to annex. �I�m still for it. I think it makes sense to consolidate services like that.�

The earliest election date could be November, but there was discussion to move the election to a further date. Some were concerned with the timing of the EMS levy vote, which will likely be held in November, and officials wanted to see how the outcome of that vote goes. There had been some discussion with a September vote, but Tomsic said the timing just wasn�t possible.

Now that the council has adopted the ordinance stating the intention to annex, the fire district 13 commission will next adopt a resolution concurring. Following this will be the notification to the boundary board which will advertise for comments for 45 days, and then notifies Whatcom county council. The county council will then set a ballot issue for vote at least 45 days before the election date and the election will then be held in both Blaine and the district.

In order for this to pass, the vote must pass by majority in both areas.

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