Woodinville and Northshore Fire Departments request “yes” vote on merger, firefighters union opposes

Departments claim the merger would reduce costs and help provide better emergency services.

The Northshore Fire Department is asking its voters to approve merging with Woodinville Fire & Rescue during the April 27, 2021 Special Election. If approved by voters, the departments claim property owners in Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and Woodinville could immediately see an improvement in emergency services and pay less in taxes starting in 2022.

If the merger passes, Northshore property owners would save a projected $0.11 per $1,000 of assessed property value or 8.5% of the effective tax rate. Woodinville property owners would save a projected $0.07 per $1,000 or 5.6%, according to a joint press release.

These are conservative estimates prepared by an independent third-party financial firm and are based on the most current data available. More efficient use of emergency personnel also could save taxpayers on overtime costs, which were nearly $1.8 million for both agencies in 2020.

If the agencies were combined in the month of February, overtime savings alone would have exceeded $22,000, according to the press release.

The departments also claim that a merger would provide additional emergency response units and resources.

International Association of Firefighters, Local 2459, members and representatives reportedly oppose the merger.

The merger initiative is scheduled for the April 27, 2021 Special Election. Because the Northshore Fire Department would merge into Woodinville Fire & Rescue, Northshore voters are the ones who vote on the proposal. If the merger is approved by voters, the new agency would have a name that reflects both service areas.

More information on the proposed merger can be found on the fire districts’ websites at www.northshorefire.com or www.wf-r.org. Fire Chief Greg Ahearn also welcomes questions about the proposed merger at GAhearn@northshorefire.com.