Northshore Fire Department and Woodinville Fire & Rescue want to merge into one agency to improve emergency services and save money for taxpayers. Here are some answers to questions that you may have about the proposal.

What’s on my ballot?

Northshore Fire Department is asking voters to approve merging with Woodinville Fire & Rescue. The proposal will be on the April 27, 2021 Special Election ballot.

Why is my fire department asking for this?

Many fire agencies in Washington are merging to save taxpayers money and improve service for residents and businesses they serve.

How will merging impact my property taxes?

Together with a third-party financial analyst, we are projecting that property taxpayers in both communities will save money. Were the agencies merged in 2021, Northshore property owners would save an estimated $0.11 per $1,000 of assessed property value or 8.5% of the effective tax rate. Woodinville Fire property owners would save $0.07 per $1,000 or 5.6%.

Why does merging save money?

Merging would allow sharing additional staff and combining administrative departments. Working as one agency also requires less reserve apparatus and provides economies of scale in purchasing goods and services. Long-term, we are projecting less overall cost per property taxpayer to fund stations, apparatus, and equipment.

How will this improve service?

Residents of the new fire district will continue to enjoy the same high level of emergency service from a dedicated team of professional firefighters. Working as one agency allows for better and more efficient deployment of these personnel and other resources. There will be better training opportunities for firefighters, stronger fire prevention programs in local schools and more community engagement.

Why did Northshore choose Woodinville Fire & Rescue?

Both agencies are strong financially and operationally, approximately the same size, and fund emergency services with a fire levy and fire benefit charge. Northshore and Woodinville also currently share some administrative positions and departments, including Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Chief Administrative Officer, finance, human resources, and IT.

Are there other fire districts without borders that touch?

Yes, Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue serves southeast Snohomish County and the Lake Stevens community. Their borders are not contiguous.

What will the new name be?

The new agency will have a name that reflects the communities it serves. The naming process will include the public and fire department personnel once and if the merger is approved by voters.

Will there be a change in service in my area?

The same number of emergency personnel and apparatus will continue to serve both areas and provide assistance to the other as needed. The current Northshore Fire Department stations will remain open and ready to respond to emergencies.

Who votes on this proposal?

Because Northshore is merging into Woodinville Fire & Rescue, Northshore voters are the ones who vote on this ballot measure.

When will property owners see the new effective tax rate?

The new rate will apply to 2022 property tax statements.

What is an effective tax rate?

This rate combines taxes property owners pay for fire service. These amounts are averaged into “cents per $1,000” of assessed property value.

Where can I find more information?

More information can be found on the Northshore website at https://www.northshorefire.com/merger-updates/. Interim Fire Chief Greg Ahearn also is available to answer questions at (425) 354-1780 or GAhearn@northshorefire.com.