Eastside Fire & Rescue Board Meeting Could Get Hot

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Eastside Fire & Rescue

Budget cut discussions continue throughout Issaquah as Covid-19 takes its economic toll on families, businesses, and government services. Recently the City of Issaquah had to make significant reductions in costs through multiple methods, which rippled across city government and the police department.

At the request of Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, Eastside Fire & Rescue (EF&R) is also being asked to pitch-in, without compromising the safety of residents. Mayor Pauly recently submitted a letter (see below) to EF&R prior to their upcoming board meeting requesting they provide some financial relief, and share in the burden created by the virus as City of Issaquah prepares for even further cuts. The EF&R Board of Directors meeting is being held on May 14, 2020 at 4 pm as a virtual meeting. There is a phone-in option available 509-931-1382 and Conference ID: 272382745. The full agenda and other public participation options are available here.

In response to Mayor Pauly’s request, EF&R Board Chair Alan Gothelf replied (see entire response below) that the current interlocal agreement (ILA) “has no mechanism for a jurisdiction to reduce its annual payment in the middle of a budget cycle.” The ILA is a multi-year agreement signed between EF&R and the cities of Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish, and Fire Districts 38 & 10. Gothelf also wrote, “allowing one partner the ability to adjust their financial obligations in the middle of a budget cycle would establish a precedent that could potentially undermine the long-term viability of EF&R.” The ILA agreement expires Dec., 31, 2021.

Issaquah Daily spoke with former city council member Paul Winterstein about Mayor Pauly’s request. “It seems fair that we ask a partner–and I wouldn’t be surprised if all partners were asking the same thing–what they can do to help,” Winterstein said. He went on to say, “this is a special time, and what can they do without compromising safety, which is the number one service government provides. The virus doesn’t know anything about budgets so how during these exceptional times do we all work together to get through this?”

Mayor Pauly has asked EF&R for financial relief of $424,095 over the next seven months through the remainder of 2020. On June 5, 2019 Mayor Pauly submitted her 2020-2025 capital improvement plan (CIP), which included $26 million in currently unfunded expenditures for a temporary fire station ($2.6M), and a new permanent Firehouse 71 ($23M). The plan was adopted by city council.

The Capital Improvement Plan 2020-2025 capital projects will not be budgeted unless there are reasonable expectations that revenues will be available to pay for them.

The letters from Pauly and Gothelf are published below, and available in the EF&R board meeting packet here (see pages 18-20).

Mayor Pauly letter to Gothelf:

Mayor Pauly Letter

EF&R Board Chair letter to Pauly:

Gothelf

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