Voters approve Mville Fire District levy

MARYSVILLE This city will be getting a new $2.5 million fire station in the southern end of town after voters in two jurisdictions approved a tax increase at the ballot box on Nov. 7.
Voters in the city and in Snohomish County Fire District 12 approved a levy-lid lift to provide additional staff support for the new three-bay station in the Sunnyside neighborhood. Because the Marysville Fire District is a hybrid between the city and the county district, two elections were held. City voters approved the property tax boost by 54 percent, while those in Fire District 12 gave a 56 percent approval to the request. Both measures had to pass for either increase to go into effect.
It was an important victory for fire chief Greg Corn, who labored to convince voters living up to 10 miles apart for the need to improve the whole district. The funds will also allow the district to transition to a full-time staff; currently there are about 60 paid part-time firefighters who work for the district. Those will be phased out through attrition over several years, Corn said.
Were not going to do away with our existing volunteers and part-time people, he said, noting the transition wont start until 2009.
The 9,000-square-foot station will be built on a city-owned site in the Sunnyside neighborhood. Marysville recently annexed more than 1,500 acres in the area and is obligated to provide police and fire protection for the 2,500 residents in the Whiskey Ridge and Sunnyside neighborhoods stretching east to SR 9. Some of that area is now served by the Lake Stevens Fire District, which will cover the area under contract through 2007, according to Corn. The city and the fire district had planned on a temporary fire station at the same location. With the levy lift and the Lake Stevens service agreement, the Marysville Fire District will build a permanent station instead.
So that took care of the need for the temporary fire station, Corn explained. Response times to the area are now up to 11 minutes, twice what Corn wants.
Marysville owns 26 acres at the Sunnyside well site, and the fire district should need about two acres for the station, and will buy the land from the city. The new station will be smaller than Station 62 in the Shoultes neighborhood, which is 13,000-square-feet with four bays, but it will also have a community meeting room, albeit a smaller one. Corn said he wants the firehouse finished by 2008, but hedges when pressed.
I think thats probably a bit of a dream to get it done in that time frame, Corn said.
Planners will spec the needed land for parking, building footprint and water retention, and the district is advertising for architects this week.
Were ready to go now, weve got all the financial pieces in place, Corn said. Wed just like to express our gratitude to the community for the confidence they have expressed about us.
The district has long had the capital funds needed to build the station, but not to staff it. The levy lid lift provides more funds for operating expenses like staff salaries and not construction costs. Thats why the two measures passed with less than 60 percent of voter approval. Like school districts, the fire district would have to surmount the 60 percent supermajority to pass a construction bond. Increasing the existing levy needed only a simple majority.

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