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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Fire-district plan earns preliminary OK

The Boundary Review Board gave preliminary approval Monday to Spokane Valley’s proposal to permanently become part of two fire districts.

Spokane Valley canceled a public vote on the fire district issue at the last moment this spring after worrying that the election process could be declared invalid because it hadn’t gone through the Boundary Review Board.

Monday’s hearing will allow the election to go forward, assuming no one appeals the board’s decision. A written decision is expected to be finished by the end of June. The board gave an oral decision unanimously approving the Valley’s proposal to become part of the two fire districts at the public hearing, held Monday afternoon in Spokane Valley’s council chambers. No residents testified.

Under state law, new cities must decide what to do about fire protection after two years. Spokane Valley wants to permanently become part of two fire districts that currently serve the city: Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane County Fire District 8. If voters in both fire districts approve the annexation, the districts’ boundaries will stay the same.

Valley Fire – formally known as Spokane County Fire District 1 – serves nearly all the new city except for part of Ponderosa, some homes at the top of Carnahan Hill and part of the Morningside neighborhood on the eastern edge of the city.

At the public hearing, city and fire officials advocated for keeping existing fire district boundaries, except in the Morningside neighborhood. A dozen lots in Morningside straddle both Valley Fire and Fire District 8, complicating issues such as taxation, voting and fire protection.

The fire departments agreed to re-draw the boundaries on those 12 lots so that each would belong to only one district. The Boundary Review Board agreed to adopt the fire districts’ proposal while keeping the boundaries in other areas, such as Ponderosa, the same.

A recent survey done by Spokane Valley showed nearly everyone was satisfied with fire protection, city planner Scott Kuhta told the board.

Boundary Review Board chairman Douglas Beu asked Kuhta whether the plan to annex into two fire districts was “the interim plan.”

“It would seem long-term the city would only want one fire district,” Beu said.

Kuhta said while it might seem logical that the city would only want to be part of one fire district, the city didn’t want to change boundaries and cause financial hardships for the fire districts or for citizens. Valley Fire has full-time firefighters and paramedics. Valley fire residents pay higher taxes than those in Fire District 8, which has both professional and volunteer firefighters.

After the hearing, Kuhta said the Boundary Review Board approval gives the city enough time to put the election to a September vote, assuming no one appeals the decision.

Spokane Valley has to have a plan for fire protection in place by the end of the year.

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