EFR on the road to becoming a nonprofit

August 7, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: Aug. 7, 10:33 a.m.

A move to make Eastside Fire & Rescue into a nonprofit is proceeding, but the Sammamish City Council wants some answers before they’ll support the effort.
Sammamish is a member of the consortium, including Issaquah, North Bend and Fire Districts 10 and 38, which provides fire and emergency services to the area.
Under the current model, while all the partners are equal, District 10 is officially the employer of record for the firefighters. As a result, after the EFR board approves matters like a labor contract, District 10 must also approve it.
It’s created a headache for staff, who must make the same presentations twice. It’s also created the potential (although it’s never happened) that the EFR board could vote one way and District 10 could vote another.
By converting to a nonprofit entity, District 10 would be off the hook for such decisions and all the power would be vested in the EFR board.
EFR officials are currently working out the details, and making sure things, like firefighter’s retirement benefits, can transfer from one entity to the other.
The EFR board approved the change June 12. Now each of the five members must OK the change.
Councilwoman Nancy Whitten was concerned about the potential for debt. While the nonprofit would not be able to issue bonds, it might be able to take out other types of loans. Whitten was afraid Sammamish might get stuck paying for something it doesn’t want.
Public Works Director Laura Philpot said city staff would work to find out those answers.
Deputy City Manager Lyman Howard said the measure is scheduled to come back to the City Council September 2.

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