MRFA1003

Local resident Theresa Ramey, right, talks with Jeff Cole, deputy chief with the Marysville Fire District, about a potential Regional Fire Authority that may be forming soon at a Sept. 27 open house event.

Marysville and Fire District 12 officials hope to improve local fire and emergency services by forming a Regional Fire Authority.

After years of negotiating city and fire district representatives are ready to submit a final proposal to the Marysville City Council and Fire District 12 commissioners.

“Tonight we reached the last milestone in the plan and we have to take it back to the respective bodies for a vote,” said Martin McFalls, Fire Chief of the Marysville Fire District.

Since 1992 Fire District 12 and the city of Marysville have had an inter-local agreement on fire services which formed the Marysville Fire District.

Fire District 12 covers areas surrounding Marysville including parts of Tulalip, Lakewood and Smokey Point.

Becoming a Regional Fire Authority (a.k.a. RFA) would change the governance structure, put the taxing authority all under one umbrella and allow for different revenue sources which officials hope will make their fire services more sustainable.

“The sustainable funding source is going to be huge for us. Since the downturn in the economy we’ve gone back and forth with funding sources,” said McFalls.

“We’re almost year-to-year right now with no ability to project or plan into the future,” he said.

Creating one taxing authority makes more sense when running a joint fire service as well, said Marysville City Council president Kamille Norton.

“Previously we had separate EMS levies,” for the city and the district, she said. “This creates one taxing authority where you don’t have to pass different levies."

When there is funding coming from the district and the city it also creates issues of sorting out who is paying for what.

“This allows the fire district to consolidate and bring things all under one structure,” said Marysville City Council member Stephen Muller.

Talks first began in 2014 about potentially forming an RFA between the two groups and restarted early this year.

“You have to go through that process to have everybody feel good about it at the end of the day,” said Muller.

At one point Arlington was considering joining the RFA, but Marysville backed out of those negotiations.

One of the biggest disagreements was over the RFA board. The current proposed plan would be a five-person board made of four Marysville City Council members and one Fire District 12 commissioner.

The four-to-one distribution is representative of the population difference between the city and the district.

“Proportional governance was a big thing for us. We wanted the board to represent the people they serve,” said Norton.

If the proposed plan is approved by the Marysville City Council and Fire District 12 commissioners, it still has to go through a vote of the people as well.

McFalls said they are considering putting the measure on the ballot in February or April of next year.

Officials met with locals to discuss the RFA during a community event on Sept. 27 and will hold another event to talk with residents on Oct. 17.

The October event is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Marysville Fire District Station 62 at 10701 Shoultes Road, Marysville.

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