Frequently Asked Questions: Proposed Merger with Northshore Fire Department

Woodinville Fire & Rescue and the Northshore Fire Department 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.

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, Woodinville Fire & Rescue property owners would save an estimated $0.07 per $1,000 of assessed property value or 5.6% on the effective tax rate. Northshore property owners would save $0.11 per $1,000 or 8.5%.

What’s the process to finalize the merger?

Because Northshore is merging into Woodinville Fire and Rescue, Northshore voters are the ones who vote on this ballot measure. The merger proposal will be on Northshore voter ballots during the April 27, 2021 Special Election.

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.

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.

Do Woodinville Fire and Northshore currently work together?

Yes, Woodinville and Northshore currently share some administrative positions and departments, including Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Chief Administrative Officer, finance, human resources, and IT. Merging would make this temporary partnership permanent.

Are the agencies compatible?

Yes, both Woodinville Fire and Northshore are strong financially and operationally. They are approximately the same size, and fund emergency services with a fire levy and fire benefit charge.

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.

Where can I find more information?

More information can be found on Woodinville Fire & Rescue’s website at www.wf-r.org/merger-information.  Fire Chief Greg Ahearn also is available to answer questions at (425) 483-2131 or GAhearn@wf-r.org