City, fire district work out terms of new six-year agreement

By Dan Aznoff | Jul 22, 2017

Negotiators for the city of Mill Creek and Snohomish County Fire District 7 walked out of a marathon bargaining session last Friday (July 14) with a tentative agreement to provide fire and emergency medical services to the city through 2022. The current contract was set to expire at the end of the year.

Legal counsel for the parties are expected to draft the contract documents incorporating the terms of the tentative agreement that can be presented to Fire District 7’s Board of Commissioners and the Mill Creek City Council for ratification. Fire Commissioner Randy Fay predicted the formal contract could be signed as early as September.

“I was as surprised as anybody,” said Fay following the eight-and-one-half hour session. “We stayed consistent with the terms of our proposal in March.”

Fay said the agreement was reached when the firefighters reworked the terms to move some of the city’s financial commitment to later in the contract. The move, said Fay, provided the city with the ability to stay within the term of its current budget without the need for to ask the council or voters for more funds during the current biennium.

“We have been providing fire and emergency medical services to Mill Creek for many years and are pleased to be continuing service to the community,” said Fay. “We have enjoyed a strong partnership with the city, and are confident this agreement meets the needs of both organizations.”

The city was equally thrilled to settle the anxiety of an uncertain future for fire protection and emergency medical services. The six year contract includes two six-year rollover options.

“We value the partnership with Fire District 7 and are glad we were able to agree to terms for this new contract,” said City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto told a gathering of concerned residents at a Town Hall meeting Monday night at City Hall. “Ensuring public safety services is one of our top priorities, and we are confident that the City, through its relationship with Fire District 7, will continue to provide top-quality services to our residents, in a fiscally responsible manner.”

In addition to the financial terms of the agreement, the city and the fire district agreed to maintain the current staffing levels at Fire Station 76, ownership responsibilities of the fire station and contingency plans in the event the city annexes additional portions of unincorporated Snohomish County. The station is current staffed by five firefighters around the clock, which equates to 24 full time positions.

Polizzotto said the signed agreement will allow her to focus on other issues facing the city, including a collective bargaining agreement with city employees. Fay said he was happy to provide peace of mind to firefighters.

“I was happy to be able to turn off my phone and get a god night’s sleep,” Fay said. “It’s been a long time.”

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