12/13/2018: "Fire, EMS & Town Discuss Merger Study"
(L to R: SJI Fire Chair Bob Jarman & Hosp Chair Michael Edwards -IG photo)
A report on the feasibility of combining San Juan Island fire District 3 and hospital District 1 is expected to be ready for public review by the end of March 2019.
The CAG (Citizen’s Advisory Group) has yet to complete the report they have been charged with producing, but at a special joint meeting on Wednesday -including both boards and the Town of Friday Harbor administrator- they reported that while their work is open to possibilities, one of their goals is to find the best solution to serving the community with the most realistic level of service that is affordable.
Town Administrator Duncan Wilson said a central part of the puzzle is convincing the residents of Friday Harbor that a vote for the annexation of the Town into the boundaries of the Fire District 3 service area is in the best interest of Town citizens.
After, and if, that happens, then both the town and the island residents’ will have to approve a merger of the two districts, based on whatever the final recommendations look like from CAG that are accepted by the governing boards of the fire department and the SJI Hospital board that governs the EMS department.
The CAG reported they have so far completed interviews of Individuals who are, or have been, involved in combining EMS and fire departments, and produced 40 pages of minutes and spent over 150 meeting hours in the process.
They reported they are now comparing the existing budgets of both departments to determine the financial impacts of a proposed merger, and to what degree, if any, tax money can be saved, and how will service levels and efficiency be maintained and/or improved.
The reported that one of the stated objectives of the CAB is to “determine what is best for the community”, and “not what is best for the existing departments.”