Voters in Latah and Waverly and those in the Spokane County Fire District 12 coverage area will decide on Nov. 8 whether the towns will be annexed into the district.
Latah and Waverly have had their own fire departments for the past 35 years, but annexing into District 12 would prove more cost-effective, said Kynda Browning, secretary for District 12 and town clerk in Latah and Waverly.
Latah, population 205 with 88 houses, and Waverly, population 130 with 60 houses, own one fire truck apiece, while the District 12 owns the rest. There are a total of 45 firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
All are volunteers, as is the case in the rural District 12.
Browning said the volunteers had been provided $70 a year for disability insurance and pension benefits, but the amount increased to $100 on July 1.
“The costs have been rising, and if we don’t annex into the fire district, we will be forced to charge the towns for EMT costs and dispatching fees,” Browning said.
If voters approve the annexation, property taxes would not increase. However, there would be a decrease of revenue for the towns and an increase for the fire district.
Waverly and Latah set aside a percentage of their annual budgets for their fire departments. If the fire departments are annexed, the towns would lose about $3,000 each in property tax revenue that would go to the fire district.
Currently each town puts in that amount of money toward the fire department, and they no longer would have to do that. The money would go to Fire District 12.
Registered voters who live in District 12 also will vote on the annexation. There are 285 people who live in the district.
The decision will be by a majority vote of combining the district and a town. Voters can approve one town and turn down the other.
The annexation was proposed by the fire district.
In May, Spokane Valley residents approved annexations in the Millwood neighborhood.
“One of the comments I heard is that the towns would not have the control anymore,” Browning said.
Browning added that is not the case. The services would stay the same, and there would be no tax increase.