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Fire & Emergency Medical Services 2020 Ballot Measure

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"What is the Community Safety Advisory Group?"

The Community Safety Advisory Group (ComSAG) will meet for the duration of October 2019 to March 2020 to review options to improve response times, keep stations seismically sound, and improve firefighter health and safety. The ComSAG will review investments to accomplish these goals such as fire station seismic renovation, expansion, additional firefighter staffing, potential training facilities, and funding mechanisms for a November 2020 ballot measure for Fire and Emergency Medical Services. The ComSAG's recommendation to the Council will be presented March of 2020. The group is chaired by Mayor Penny Sweet and is comprised of representatives from the Juanita neighborhood, Finn Hill, Evergreen Hill, Market, Highlands, N. Rose Hill, Moss Bay, Lakeview, South Rose Hill/Bridle Trails, Kirkland Downtown Association, Northwest University, Kirkland Indivisible, Lake WA Institute of Technology, Google, Lake WA School District, Kirkland Interfaith Networks, Merrill Gardens, Kiwanis, KirklandSafe, Hopelink, Kirkland Business Roundtable, Evergreen Hospital, Houghton Community Council, Senior Council, Youth Council, and from the community at-large.

Community members that are interested in learning along with the ComSAG will be able to access materials online on the City website after the meetings.

Community Safety Advisory Group Video Screenshot
Watch the Community Safety Advisory Group Video

 "How Has the City Previously Funded Fire Stations?"

Historically, voter-approved bonds have funded the building and renovation of all fire stations in the City. A bond submitted to the voters by Fire District 41 for $545,000 passed in 1972 and funded the replacement and relocation of Fire Station 25 from central Finn Hill to the current location on the corner of Juanita Drive and Holmes Point Drive. That same bond also allowed for the construction of a new Fire Station 27 at NE 132nd St. and 112th Ave NE, about a block away from the current Fire Station 27. Fire Station 22 was funded through a 1978 voter-approved bond for $790,000 and entered service in 1980. Fire Station 21 was built in 1992 through the passage of a $4.8 million-dollar bond, which also funded the replacement of Fire Station 26. Voter-approved bonds are enhanced by Kirkland’s AAA credit rating which allows the City to issue debt and borrow money at lower interest rates.

Fire StationMethodYear FundedAmount
21 & 26 Voter Approved Bond 1990 $4,800,000
22 Voter Approved Bond 1978 $790,000
25 & 27 Voter Approved Bond 1972 $545,000

 

"Why a Ballot Measure Now?"

As one key component of keeping the Kirkland community safe, the Council completed a Fire Department Strategic Plan (PDF) in 2012. This Plan identified needed investments in staffing, equipment and technology to provide for better response times for Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), as well as needed renovation and expansion of existing fire stations. At the February 21, 2017 Council Meeting, the Council adopted Resolution R-5239 (PDF) which directed the City’s 2017-2018 Work Program (PDF) to “explore potential ballot measures for fire station modernization and public safety operations to further the goals of Public Safety, Dependable Infrastructure, and Financial Stability.”

Kirkland voters passed the Enhanced Police Services and Community Safety Ballot Measure during the November 2018 general election, which is a two-phased approach to enhancing public safety. Phase 1 of the two-phased approach included a voter-approved sales tax measure investing in police and community safety initiatives. Phase 2 will include a bond or levy lid lift for fire station seismic renovation, capacity expansion, additional firefighter/EMT staffing, and possibly training facilities.

The City is experiencing unprecedented growth and redevelopment. With new types of commercial and residential structures that need fire/EMS services, it is a challenge to continue providing public safety services that match the economic growth, and the City is further challenged by the expiration of the annexation sales tax credit in 2021, resulting in the loss of nearly four million dollars annually from the City’s general fund. At the February 19, 2019 Council Meeting, the City Council adopted the City’s 2019-2020 Work Program (PDF) which ranked “exploring a potential ballot measure in 2020 to fund Fire Station modernization and enhanced operations to further the goal of Public Safety” as its number one priority. To sustainably fund these critical fire and EMS investments, the City must either identify new revenues or significantly reprioritize existing general fund programs such as parks maintenance and street maintenance that also rank as high priorities with Kirkland residents.