The City of Elma and Fire District #5 are looking for voter approval for annexation, although not until the new year.
In a release from FD#5, they state that the discussion on annexation began on February 24, 2020 when the Elma City Council and the fire district commissioners met at a work session to discuss the City of Elma becoming part of Grays Harbor Fire Protection District 5.
They say that the officials agreed that the voters should be asked to be a part of the process, and earlier this month the Council and commissioners all voted unanimously to submit to the voters a ballot measure to annex the city of Elma into the district.
According to the details, the City and district have been working together to build a working relationship and this move would improve fire and EMS service to the citizens, enhance firefighter safety, and control controlling future cost i
“It will improve funding for other needed projects, including public safety; and for the fire district, which makes long-term planning more efficient.”
The release states that the City has several agreements in place with the Fire District.
“First is a contract to provide Emergency Medical Services to the city. Second, is an Interlocal Agreement for Joint occupancy and operation of the Elma Fire station, and finally, they have an automatic aid agreement for all fire and rescue calls helping provide a safer and more efficient firefighting force to serve the community of the city and the district. The annexation would combine to the fire agencies together eliminating the need for multiple contracts and agreements.”
The proposition will appear on the February 9, 2021, special election ballot for City of Elma and Fire District 5 voters, asking for the approval of annexation.
The proposition requires a simple majority to pass.
“Currently, property owners in the City of Elma pay a property tax to the city, a city utility tax then pays the fire district to provide its medical services. The City of Elma would no longer pay for emergency medical services if annexed into the fire district.
Property owners in the Fire District pay a fire levy, which would not increase.
If annexed, property owners in the City are said to pay a projected fire levy at $1.29 per $1,000 of assessed property value — the same amount as district property owners” officials said.
Officials state that currently, the Elma Volunteer Fire Department is not able to sustain its current staffing model and be able to serve the community’s needs, and combining services creates a Fire and EMS service staffed with both Volunteers and Career personnel that improves the response times to the community, enhance the safety of fire and EMS personnel, and provides full-time staff to help manage the training, administrative and operational mandates.
In addition, annexing the two departments together provides an opportunity for long term planning and controls futures costs. Both the City of Elma and Fire District 5 are neighbors who protect and provide services to the same community and have the same needs such as, upgrading fire engines, fire stations, and additional staffing to meet the needs of our community. Annexing are agencies together eliminates duplication in facility and equipment needs thus controlling future cost.
“The annexation will protect the current level and quality of services for people in both communities and all property owners will be able to vote for fire commissioners, levies and bonds.”
As soon as Governors Inslee’s Stay Home Stay Safe proclamation is lifted, the release states that several open houses will be scheduled to provide information about the annexation.
Residents can learn more by visiting the district website at www.ghfd5.org.
City of Elma residents with questions can contact Chief Tyson Boling at 360-482-2812 or [email protected]. Fire District residents with questions can contact Chief Adam Fulbright at 360-482-6266 or [email protected].