Town Council, District 3 fire commissioners will meet to discuss merger

The Friday Harbor Town Council and the San Juan Island Fire District commissioners will meet jointly Sept. 16, noon, at the district fire station on Mullis Street to discuss merging the town and district fire departments.

The meeting is open to the public. The meeting was originally scheduled for the Town Council chambers, but the location was changed earlier this week.

A consultant hired by District 3 will give an overview of merger options that are available under state law.

In October, a second meeting will take place, in which a town consultant will review the financial aspects of a merger and how it might affect tax rates.

Merger was for a long time a contentious issue. But town and district officials are exploring the efficiencies that might result from a single department.

“The council started that discussion during our working retreats during the summer, and it’s something District 3 is interested in exploring,” Mayor Carrie Lacher said.

“The town fire department relies on volunteers, so there’s a special kind of vulnerability. If a joint venture with District 3 means we all can have good coverage all of the time, that would be to everybody’s advantage.”

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