Another merger for East Pierce?
August 11, 2009 · Updated 12:24 AM
Merger talks between East Pierce and District 18
are in preliminary stages
A news Web site reported last week that an area fire district is interested at merging with East Pierce Fire and Rescue.
On Aug. 5, OrtingNews.com reported Pierce County Fire District 18 (Orting Valley Fire and Rescue) commissioners are planning to move ahead with consolidating with East Pierce.
The Web site reported that on Aug. 4, District 18 commissioners directed Interim Fire Chief David Wakefield to draft an administrative or operational agreement that would increase East Pierce’s administrative oversight of District 18 with the future goal of annexation.
It also reported commissioners reviewed options other than consolidation with East Pierce, such as hiring its own chief, but agreed consolidation was the most economical option.
“Right now, nothing is in stone, as we aren’t even sure East Pierce’s commissioners are even interested in entering any type of agreement,” District 18 Commissioner Shawn Mahoney said. “This is going to be a slow process, we are in no hurry to merge.”
Thorson added commissioners requested a draft to East Pierce for services and compensation for a full-time fire chief.
“Dave is working 25 percent of his time in District 18,” East Pierce Chief Jerry Thorson said. “They really need a full-time fire chief.”
Thorson said East Piece officials will examine all District 18’s records, including financial, before making any merger decision.
East Pierce commissioners will meet with the District 18 board Sept. 8 to discuss a possible merger.
“Our district has worked very closely with District 18 for many years and we have a good working relationship with them,” Thorson said.
Thorson pointed out his district has three routes into District 18 – two on state Route 162 from Sumner and South Prairie and another on Rhodes Lake Road East.
District 18 serves more than 8,000 people with four fire stations – McMillin, Orting, Peterson Road and Cemetery Hill Road.
East Pierce has provided administrative oversight for District 18 under Wakefield since May 27 after commissioners placed Fire Chief Randy Shelton on a 30-day administrative leave. The district terminated Shelton’s contract on July 9 during a special meeting.
Shelton was chief of District 18 since 2004 – two years after it split with the city’s fire department over disagreements about payment of services.
Currently, the city of Orting and Fire District 18 are working together under an operational agreement. In 2005, the city and district resumed joint fire operations, but the city retained a separate chief until 2006. City officials decided to disband their department and pay District 18 nearly $1 million a year for fire service, which includes noncash payments including the use of equipment.
Recently, East Pierce and the District 8 (Edgewood Fire Department) signed an interlocal agreement that took effect Aug. 1. Under the agreement, East Pierce will provide administrative support to fully operate both districts.
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