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EFR remains whole | Partners approve interlocal agreement

An Eastside Fire and Rescue fire fighter sits in the front of the Sammamish City Hall chambers Tuesday night, waiting to hear the council’s final decision regarding EFR. The Sammamish City Council passed the interlocal agreement in a vote of 5-2. The Issaquah City Council passed the agreement on Tuesday night as well, in an unanimous vote. - Kelly Montgomery, Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter
An Eastside Fire and Rescue fire fighter sits in the front of the Sammamish City Hall chambers Tuesday night, waiting to hear the council’s final decision regarding EFR. The Sammamish City Council passed the interlocal agreement in a vote of 5-2. The Issaquah City Council passed the agreement on Tuesday night as well, in an unanimous vote.
— image credit: Kelly Montgomery, Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter

After two years of negotiations, the cities of Issaquah and Sammamish have reached an agreement on their fire service partnership, approving an interlocal agreement proposed by representatives from each of the five partners in EFR.

District 10, District 38 and the city of North Bend had previously passed the agreement, but Sammamish and Issaquah waited until the approval deadline to come to a final decision.

Sammamish passed the agreement in a 5-2 vote with deputy mayor Kathy Huckabay and councilmember Tom Odell opposed, saying they had some serious reservations.

“When I look at the contract, I think it could have been improved dramatically,” said Huckabay. “I was disappointed that it wasn’t.”

Huckabay said she would have been happy to sign the agreement if it included such things as a termination agreement, equipment clarifications and a fire chief on city staff.

Under the agreement, if a partner had to or wanted to withdraw from the partnership, it would not have to give notice to the other partners – a concern for multiple council members.

Huckabay said these concerns were too great for her to ignore.

Odell agreed, adding that while he believes the new agreement is better than what the city had previously had, he thinks it could have done even better in creating its own fire department.

Huckabay and Odell also said that they didn’t appreciate the politics that came out during the negotiations and the social media campaign EFR had constructed, with “Save our fire department” posters strewn throughout the city.

“My position is that while I would like to vote for this agreement, I cannot,” Odell said.

With Sammamish approving the agreement and Issaquah approving it unanimously, the process is, for now, completed. If changes need to be made to the agreement, all five partners must agree unanimously. The new agreement is a seven-year contract and will begin on Jan. 1, 2015.

 

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