North Highline FD meeting, report #2: Annexation, and more

As we reported here earlier, the prospect of a potential community fireworks ban came up at this morning’s meeting of the North Highline Fire District‘s commissioners. Now, as the legendary Paul Harvey says, “the rest of the story” — at least, the rest of what was discussed before commissioners went into executive session. First: Annexation, since the district is one of the agencies whose future depends on whether the area is annexed and if so, by whom. It was announced that the commissioners plan a special meeting with City of Seattle reps at NHFD HQ, 8 am Sept. 24, the day after their next regular meeting at the same time/place on Sept. 23. (This is now added to the White Center Now Events Calendar page, along with other dates announced at today’s meeting.)

TRAINING/EQUIPMENT: Chief Scott LaVielle noted the department’s involved with trench-rescue training today. Also, a $100,000 FEMA grant is being sought for equipment including bulletproof vests, thermal-imaging cameras, smoke-removal gear. The district says FEMA’s asked for direct-deposit info so they’re considering it a good sign!

PERSONNEL: These notes are from the printed agenda: “A firefighter who injured himself on the job in August has been released to full duty. A firefighter injured himself on duty and will be out until September 10 (unless surgery is required). A Lieutenant injured himself off duty and will be off until the end of November. A firefighter is on disability for surgery and scheduled to return (this week).”

VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT: Also from the printed agenda: “Five people passed the oral boards … Physicals are scheduled for this week. Gear fitting is scheduled for next week. Volunteer Academy begins October 4 (9-week course).”

9/11 FLAGS: This Thursday is, of course, the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks; North Highline plans to fly its flags at half-staff that day in honor of the victims, and Chief LaVielle also suggests that members of the public fly their flags on Thursday as well.

UPCOMING EVENTS: The “Give Burns the Boot” Drive tentatively plans a pancake breakfast at Boulevard Park Place, 9:30-11 am on October 4th. The day after that, the Washington State Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial Service is scheduled (10/5) at the state Capitol Rotunda in Olympia. The White Center Eagles’ Medic 1 Dinner is set for 5-9 pm October 17th, and (as has been mentioned here before) the White Center Food Bank’s fundraising Dinner/Auction is set for October 18.

The executive session that commenced less than an hour after the public session began was to deal with “personnel issues.” Next meeting (as mentioned above), 8 am 9/23, with the annexation-related meeting 8 am 9/24, both at NHFD HQ (1243 SW 112th; map; also, from the NHFD site, here’s a map showing their service area).

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39 Responses to “North Highline FD meeting, report #2: Annexation, and more”

  1. Thanks goodness the North Highline Fire Department is looking for a FEMA grant for new equipment. God knows they can’t afford such basic items since they’re paying Scott LaVielle such a huge salary. Did you know that he is now making over $170 g’s?

    Not too sure why they’re calling a special meeting with Seattle to discuss annexation implications, as this has already been done. What more is there to discuss? North Highline also requested a special meeting with District 2, where District 2 assured them that any remaining portion of the North Highline Fire Dept. that is left after a Burien annexation would be taken care of via a contract for services.

    The North Highline fire department is totally stalling on annexation, in hopes that they will stay status-quo. And Scott LaVielle is doing his best to see that he continues to get his large sum of money from the taxpayers.

    Sure, they’ll meeting with Seattle, who will appease North Highline and tell them that “everything will be ok.” However, Seattle won’t put anything in writing, because they know that everything is negotiable.

    The citizens should be apalled at the behavior of the North Highline Fire Commissioners, most for giving their chief such an unjustified sallary. I will say that commissioner Barb Peters is the only one with sense enough to vote against their ridiculous actions, just like she did when she voiced her opposition to the other two commissioners apposing Burien’s current annexation plan.

    Ron Malaspino and Wayne Alishokis should be recalled!

  2. In this week’s Highline Times there is an article about annexation which mentions that Kenny Pittman of the Seattle Mayor’s Office has suggested that part of North Highline could end up without fire and EMS services if Burien annexes both North Highline fire stations. This is completely bogus. No part of North Highline will ever be left without fire and EMS services. All that will happen is those services will occur via a contractual agreement.

    Such contractual agreements for services across borders are not uncommon. Currently, the residents of the northern part of the City of Burien receive their fire and EMS services via a contractual agreement with the North Highline Fire Dept., not the Burien-Normandy Park Fire Dept./Fire Dist. 2, which provides fire and EMS services to the rest of Burien.

    I have to agree with Kris that there are many things going on with the North Highline Fire Commission that are of concern, so I am hoping that White Center Now will be covering all of their future meetings because it is difficult for people who are employed to attend given these meetings are held during the day and there seems to be little or no coverage in the MSM such as the White Center News.

  3. We will do our best. This is a hallmark of the news coverage with which we are involved on WSB as well – every significant community-group meeting – that’s where news is made, not just by the “officials,” but by the hard-working community members and neighbors who get involved. And even in the smaller details – the information presented by the NHFD at yesterday’s meeting involved several community events that don’t seem to be listed much of anywhere else online (that’s why we have created a simple flat-view events calendar page for this site as well) – but now we know, and because we’ve added them to our page, you know (if you didn’t already). Anyone who wants to be an official contributor to this site, by the way, please feel free to e-mail us … WCN is a multicontributor site and the three with which we started (FullTilt, Ricardo, me) is not meant to be the final roster! :)

  4. This is all good info to know. Are these the kind of things and actions that go on at the Fire Commissioner Meetings?
    Approvals of outrageous salaries, expensive vehicles with all the bells and whistles, opposing annexation regardless of how the majority of the community feels, constant 2 to 1 votes while everyone else is at work? The meetings should be held in the evening so they are accessible to the community with opportunity for input about where their tax dollars should be spent! Why is there no contact info for the commissioners anywhere including the NHFD website so we can give public comment via e-mail too?

  5. Heidi, Yes! These are the kind of things that go on at these commissioners meetings, and by the way which are held IN THE MORNINGS! You see, this way most citizens will not be able to attend.

    You’re right about the constant 2 to 1 votes. Barb Peters is the only one who voices her opposition to the other commissioners crazy behavior.

    I encourage you to attend the next commissioners meeting and voice your opposition to meetings being held in the morning. I think all of the commissioners are retired, so there is no reason to hold them in the mornings. So you know, meetings are held the first and third Tuesday of every month.

    You should attend the next one and ask about Scott LaVielles salary! Completely outrageous!

  6. Not only is the fire cheif salary of $170 g`s that is over $14000 a month out rageous but retired fire chief retirement salary is $165,000.00. My $20,000 retirement that include SS looks pretty sad in comparison
    Dick Thurnau

  7. One more thing I bet most don’t know is that North Highline Fire recently had to pay Fire District 2 an asset trasnfer to the tune of just over a million dollars. Why you ask?

    This was a result of the City of Burien annexing into Fire District 2 boundaries shortly after Burien incorporated. By doing so, Fire District 2 could levy taxes directly from the citizens vs. the money going to Burien and then Burien having to turn right around and negotiate a contract back to Fire District 2. Also by doing so, it meant that the City of Buriens boundaries were the same as the fire districts. SO, whereever the cities boundaries go, so do Fire District 2’s. This is very common for cities who don’t have their own fire department.

    When all of this happened, a portion of the North Highline Fire District officially became part of Fire District 2. So the portion of North Burien that the NHFD covers now (by contract with Fire District 2) used to be their area.

    After the successful boundary annexation vote (apposed at the time by the North Highline FD–go figure!), Fire District 2 decided to contract that area back to North Highline since they already serve the area, and their Station was still in the best area for coverage. But wait there’s more…

    District 2 also established an agreement that delayed a transfer of assets resulting from the area lost by North Highline and gained by Fire District 2. This asset transfer can be in money, employees, capital equipment, etc.

    This was done by Fire District 2 as a show of good faith and better relations between the department AND because the foundation for a possible merger was trying to be established.

    Fast forward to about a year ago, when Fire District 2 wanted to finally collect on the delayed assets. This was becuase relations were going south between the two boards of commissioners, mostly because a merger wasn’t going to work and North Highline wouldn’t contract or consolodate with Fire District 2 after Chief Russ Pritchard retired. Instead they hired a new chief, with a gigantic salary. With no movement towards a joint department by consolodation, District 2 had heard enough.

    After some negotiating, both departments agreed to an amount of about 1.3 million. And how did North Highline pay for this? Turns out they didn’t have enough cash reserves to pay this, so they did what’s called internal bonds (sometimes called councilmatic bonds) to pay the asset transfer off. They probably didn’t have enough money becuase of their chiefs outrageous salary!

    In any case, yet another example of financial mismangagement by a department who I historically respected. Heck, I even voted for their bond a few years back, as well as their most recent levy lid lift.

    I will say that the courageous firefighters on the line are still my heroes, and I’ll support most anything they want. It’s too bad the people that run their deptartment are so irresponsible.

  8. Kris this is Outrageous. What does the NHFD local union say to all this I wander? What would the President of their unuion say?
    You are right about an outrageous salary to be exact – $178,000.00. Hmmm. I wander what his job description is? I think Burien Fire Chief gets around $136, 000.00 – still alot lower.
    Well, obviously more people need to know about what goes on at their meetings while we are all at work!
    Dick you are right – it is very sad that a community would be taken advantage of like this with out a majority of community members to be able to access a meeting for their input on where our money is spent. I still can’t figure out how to access contact info for the fire commissioners. E-mails to the NFHD gets no response period! I like my NHFD services but I would definitely think twice now before voting for another raise for it.

  9. The salary of the Governor of the State of Washington is $166,891 It would be very interesting to hear the reasoning of the NH Fire Commisioners as to why they think the NH Fire Chief deserves a higher salary than the Governor.

  10. This is just unbelievable. What on earth were those fire commissioners thinking? This is way beyond reason. The Governor manages the entire State, the fire chief manages how many employees and volunteers in the NHFD covering an area of 32,000 plus residents fire and emt services. Like I said, what exactly is his job description?

  11. Forget about emails. You need to stop by and request all of the contracts (chiefs contract, services contract between District 2 and NHFD, union contract, etc). They most likely will require you to fill out a public records request. That’s what my friend had to do to get all of that and past commissioners meeting minutes. I couldn’t believe they required a records request for meeting minutes!

  12. The minutes aren’t nearly good enough – ask for tapes. However, don’t be surprised when you are told that the department doesn’t have the equipment to make a copy of a tape for you. Wonder why?

    Unfortunately, the tapes won’t get you the whole story either. I’ve missed work to attend their 8:00 am meetings and it’s obvious that the real decisions are made in “executive session” that means behind closed doors with a lawyer. The lawyer, Brian Snure, says he’s the commissioner’s lawyer – not ours. The commissioners are supposed to be representing us – why isn’t he?

  13. Check out Section 42.30 of the states RCW, and specifically regarding “executive sessions.” That is located in sub-section 32.30.110.

    They are only supposed to meet for executive session for certain reasons.

    Also, alot of decisions are made before the meetings even take place. As long as two or more commissioners are not present at the same time, it’s not an official meeting. So, that means the chief can meet with each commissioner separatetly before the meeting to iron-out decisions.

    Hard to prove, but I’m certatin it happens. Start attending these meetings if you can, and demand that they schedule them for a different time.

  14. This is all crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe the salary we are paying when most people are living pay check to pay check. This is really sad. There should be a way the community to demand meetings be held at a later time when citizens can attend. We are why they have their jobs right?
    Where do I sign up for even 1/2 that kind of salary?

  15. Kris,I’ve been attending their meetings and making public comments over the last couple of months. I’ve askd to have the meeting time changed so I don’t have to miss work and those who don’t have any flexibility re: their jobs can attend. My requests have been ignored. It’s a very convenient Catch 22, people can’t be there so they can’t object to the fact that they can’t be there. I agree that those who can attend should, but we’re a community of people who are working hard to keep roofs over our heads and food on the table and most can’t. That doesn’t mean we should be silent. We can all increase the pressure for making these meetings public by making phone calls, sending emails, dropping by the station on 112th and making requests directly to Chief Lavielle, and sending letters. WC Now can help by attending and reporting on the meetings.

    Re: the executive sessions. I’m aware of the statute and questioned the use of executive sessions for such things as deciding which commissioner would meet with Burien’s fire department at a meeting about annexation. Mr. Snure dismissed my objection. He said that the pending boundary review board action put the issue under the category of litigation so it belonged in executive session.

    Just last Tuesday, I objected to them calling an executive session after a previous meeting had already been adjourned. Snure said that I was wrong, that the meeting had not been adjourned – people had simply started talking and apparently interferred with my ability to hear what actually happened. I don’t think that a room full of firefighters would disrupt a commissioner’s meeting, but that’s his story.

    I also objected to Commissioner Alishokis making decisions about annexation as those decisions affect the employment of his wife who works for the department. Mr. Snure also dismissed that objection. He said the issue was resolved about a year ago. I wasn’t going to the meetings then, but my guess is that any discussions about Commissioner Alishokis having a conflict of interest were held in executive session.

    If anyone has access to a video camera and/or a tape recorder and the ability to attend the meetings, it would do us all a service to show up and tape them. If the commissioners and Mr. Snure won’t let the public into their meetings, let’s take the meetings to the public.

  16. Liz, That is exactly my point! The majority like yourself would need to miss work to attend. This seems real fishy. Who is in charge of managing the Fire Commissioners anyway?
    Everyone else I have talked to want’s the meetings in the evening so they can attend and have some input on NHFD services. As far as their attorney goes – who pays him?

  17. I’d like to throw out a suggestion for an action step. I think it is critical that the first thing that happens is to get the NHFD Commission meetings moved to the evening.

    Because others on this thread have said that calls and emails don’t seem to get a response, I suggest that snail-mail letters be written to the Commissioners requesting the meetings be held in the evening……….and, this is very important……send those letters Certified Mail with a Return Receipt
    That way the person at the Fire Station that receives it will have to sign for it so no one can say the letter wasn’t received. Sending letters this way is only a small expense–just over $3.00.

    I think if we reach out to other people in NH who also share our concerns and get them to write these letters and send them in this manner, it might get the attention of the Fire Commissioners. I can almost bet the Commissioners have never gotten a bunch of letters sent Certified Mail from their constitutents.

    Heid, you asked who is managing the Fire Commissioners… one within Fire Dept. It is the voters responsibility to “manage” them, because they “work” for the voters of North Highline. I think the letters sent Certified Mail from many their constitutents, might possibly end up reminding them of that.

  18. Alcina!
    Sounds like a plan we can put into action, and thank you for clarifying exactly who manages our Fire Commissioners!

  19. I find it humorous that the main posters in these comments are good friends of Barb Peters. One of them ran for commissioner the last time there was an open spot. Thank goodness she didn’t win because our district would be in worse shape than it is now. Aside from that:

    Do I agree with many of your points? Yes

    The Chief gets paid an outrageous amount of money and drives an vehicle that did not need to be purchased. The ex-Chief got a sweet deal for his retirement, sweet for him and not the taxpayers, that is. The commissioner meetings should be held in the evening so more public can attend and voice their opinions. Some of the things Commissioner Alishokis and Malaspino have done are questionable.

    I also agree that Chief LaVielle is operating under his own agenda. But, Barb Peters has been operating under her own personal agenda and not what is best for the citizens. FYI, I refuse to call her Commissioner because in my eyes, a commissioner must do what’s best for the public, not herself. I have no respect for her and she has no honor.

    It became very apparent to me during the funeral of Officer Cox. She stood up there flapping her lips and promoting the annexation to Burien. It was inexcusable, inappropriate, and disrespectful.

    When asked questions one on one, she cannot answer the hard ones. She skirts around the questions and has even pulled the “it’s because I’m female, isn’t it” card. (That was relayed to me by the person having the conversation with her) She has gone off her rocker. The reason votes are 2 to 1 is because the other commissioners know her agenda and think it’s ridiculous like the majority of the citizens. She needs to take the time and look at both Burien and Seattle to make an informed decision, not go off of emotions.

    Barb Peters is the one that needs to be recalled.

    I am staying anonymous because I value my job. Enough said.

  20. I had an opportunity to review a past budget for NHFD in it’s ever so chaotic state, skimmed through some past commissioner meeting minutes, and it’s quite clear how financially mismanaged it really has been. What a nightmare.

    I wouldn’t see any humor in fixing any of that!

    I’m glad you agree on my points :)

    They are all fact and no here say.

    It’s pretty simple,
    I wouldn’t know anything about people’s personal agenda’s with in the NHFD – I am unable to attend the meetings because they are held in the morning. The meetings need to be held in the evening. That’s the point period.

    On another note – the entire NHFD needs a recall, maybe it should be under Burien Management.

  21. Very interesting LOW KEY-
    Well, looking at these postings and reading yours, thank goodness Barb Peters has friends. It seems they are the only ones who care. Where are your friends and why don’t they have a post? Seems she is trying to get the word out, something more people need to do. Something should be said about that.
    I agree with you to about the amount of money we are paying out to the Chief and the retirement pay. I have a family and struggle from pay check to pay check to make ends meet. They make more than I make in 3 years!! We should all be asking for an entire re-structure of the NHFD and get the meetings moved to the evening.
    If you think Barb is off her rocker and needs to be recalled, We should do the same with the other 2 commissioners. Looking at what’s going on, I’m glad Barb is there. At least she is not afraid to voice her opnion and fall into the creapy politics that go on.
    Since speaking of things you hear, maybe you should ask why the NHFD has had secret meetings with Seattle. Talk about STINKY POLITICS. What, they don’t think Seattle people talk. We are not stupid. Seattle has had a few “secret” meetings with them, bet they will deny that. That’s how politics go.
    Maybe the NHFD need to listen to both sides and not go towards the dangleing carrot and what special things they will do for us. They can’t take care of their own.

    Also, interesting you state that we need to look at both sides.
    I can say that I offer you to attend some of the NHUAC meetings and Burien meetings. If you had attended a few years ago, you would know that Steve Cox was 100% for Burien annexation. It sounds like Barb is listening to the community and I can tell you my whole neighborhood wants to go to Burien. Sure, you have pockets here and there who want Seattle.
    It sounds like you have an issue with her and not what she promotes as told to her by community members.
    Just a few thoughts and facts-
    Thanks for your thoughts and listening to mine.

  22. I have a problem with her AND what she promotes. What you fail to see is that the community will not be gobbled up by one or the other. Both will have a piece of us. We need to make sure that the citizens AND the firefighters are taken care of when that happens. She is so bent on Burien that she hasn’t looked at that fact. She has no open mind about it. She hates Seattle.

    And honestly, I’d rather not go to either. Seattle is to big for it’s britches and Burien has it’s own mismanagement problems. *knock knock* Hi there SeaTac, can we come play with you guys?

  23. 1. Does anyone know what Fire Chiefs get paid? The NHFD Chief makes a fairly high salary, but so do most people in his position. It isn’t at all reasonable to compare his pay to your own unless you are also a Fire Chief with similar qualification. Sounds like a little jealousy to me.

    2. The only responsible thing to do for the management of NHFD is meet with all entities that have or may have an impact on it’s future and discuss the what may lie ahead. Just because you don’t know about something doesn’t make it a secret.

    3. Most governmental bodies meet during the day. No conspiracy there.

    4. You might want to do your own research before taking the comments posted here as absolute truth. There is a lot of opinion misrepresented as facts online. And it’s important to note who is doing the talking so you can evaluate what their motivation may be. Look and ask questions for yourself and you may get a better understanding of what’s really going on.

    The fact is that Burien doesn’t want anything to do with North Highline. They are pursuing partial annexation as a defensive strategy because a full Seattle annexation would be costly for them. The jagged and illogical border they drew was crippling to the NHFD and they knew that. If the want the process to move forward in good faith, they will choose a reasonable and clear boundary that doesn’t cherry pick the fire station and exclude the high school and pool. If they want to be fair, they will take the good with the bad. The writing is on the wall. The solution that makes the most sense is for Burien and Seattle to negotiate a compromise that doesn’t split neighborhoods and won’t leave either area without the services they need. I say 116th all the way across.

  24. Small fact point but important. I have been covering elected governmental bodies in four states for 30 years. Night meeting times outnumber day meeting times at least 10 to 1.

  25. My mistake. You’re right. Most of the suburban cities and fire districts in our area have Council meetings in the afternoon or evening.

  26. Oh, and wrt fire chiefs.
    This Times story (I haven’t found independent corroboration but don’t have the time to dig deeply for that at the moment) says Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean makes almost $174,000.

  27. Very well put JB. I agree with all of your points.

    Regarding the salaries, the Seattle Chief is still making less than the NHFD Chief. Considering the size, span of control, and responsibilities it seems a little backwards to me.

  28. This is all very interesting and I see a few motives JB that I do like.
    1. Making sure that people are informed that our Fire Commissioners have been treating our NHFD like a casino with tax payers dollars letting some individuals play and walk away with fat cat packages.
    2. Moving the meetings to the evenings.

  29. I agree with some of your points JB.
    Have you gone to any Burien, Seattle, or NHUAC meetings? This annexation would not be a mess if Seattle didn’t put their 2 cents in at the last minute. Seattle had ample opertunity to put a PAA on the area a long time ago. Since Burien started to get thier act together, Seattle didn’t like it. Burien has been doing community outreach, talking to citizens, and has been more than open to any suggestions and comments. If you all remember, Burien, before it became its own city, we were one. I can tell you a lot of them didn’t want to be part of Burien either.
    At the community meetings, you would know that the reason they didn’t take the school and pool, (which I to wish they would), they can’t afford the pool at this time. As I understand, If they take the whole area, they would do everyone a disservice. The way they configured the split also involved the water and sewer lines and the best way not to disrupt any type of service. If they split it into 3 sections taking one at a time and keeping a PAA on the whole area, it could be done the proper way. The Burien city council has already voted in favor to take North Highline, so I don’t think that’s a fair statement to say Burien doesn’t want us. Just like here, there is a pocket of people who don’t want us. I’m sure Mike Martin from Burien would be happy to sit down with you and explain the whole thing. He is a guy with a lot of information. As far as the cherry picking and being fair taking the good with the bad, I agree with you. I again would invite you to talk with Mike Martin and have him explain these process with you. I was as concerned as you. After listening to him, I guarantee you will totally understand.
    I would like the whole area to go as one, but now I see how it could hurt us. I personally would like to stay the way we are but thanks to Sim’s Growth Management Act, that’s not an option.
    I agree with you when it comes to facts and opnions. This is a hot topic with people wanting Burien and or Seattle. It would be nice if we were able to stay the way we are now.
    As far as pay for the Chief. No jealousy here, except for the point that we pay him on the higher end of the scale especially for an area that is majority of low income families. Firefighters put their life on the line everyday and I would be the last to put them down. I have voted for every penny they have wanted. But, look at the income for our area vs. the incomes of others and the number of people they provide for. It does seem a little backwards. Firefighting is a hard job with lots of training and responsibility, including life or death. They should be componsated for that but at what cost?
    It’s not that I didn’t know, it’s that only the people involved in the meeting knew, that’s a secret. I bet they wouldn’t say in public they had these meetings with Seattle? If you asked, it would be interesting to see the answer!
    I think this is good communication for all, and it would be great for more people to get involved. This is how the community can stay informed and see what is going on.
    Thanks for listening and responding.

  30. Reading these comments feel it all has been said what is needed is Action how do we start.

  31. Dick,
    I think the first things that need to happen are to get the Commission meetings moved to the evening and also to get the date, time, and location of the Commission meetings and the meeting agendas and minutes on the North Highline Fire District web page. Currently, there is absolutely nothing on the NHFD web page regarding the Commission meetings.

    I don’t think anyone who has commented on this thread would be opposed to any of that. Even though we may disagree on other things, maybe we can all work together to make those things happen.

    I would suggest 7 PM as an appropriate time for their meetings because that allows the majority of their constitutents time to get home from work and have some dinner before attending a meeting. I am aware that a number of other Fire Districts have their commission meetings at times like 4PM or 5 PM. That isn’t good either because many people aren’t home from work by that time.

    I would recommend that people write the Commissioners letters requesting these things be done and request a response.
    North Highline Fire District
    1243 SW 112th Street
    Seattle, WA 98146

    There is an email address on the “Contact Us” part of their web page however, it says that is just for “requests for materials or general comments”. I am also a little apprehesive about suggesting people trying to email the Commisioners through that because it isn’t an email address specifically for the Commissioners and some have suggested they get no response when emailing.

    Of course, if people can attend a meeting, they can speak during the public comment period, if there is one, and ask that these things be done.

  32. I agree with you Dick 100% – I will send my letter today so it makes it before their meeting next Tuesday!

  33. I haven’t looked at this string in while and have to comment on a couple of statements from Low Key and JB.
    The majority of people I have talked to in Burien favor annexation of NH to Burien, as do almost all the people I have talked to in NH, and most of the Seattle residents who know anything about it. Burien has been constrained from moving forward on annexation by two primary concerns.
    The first is the cost to the city of annexation. That is the same concern Seattle has (why else condition annexation on receiving six million dollars a year from the state). Despite numerous studies of the cost of serving the area, and the revenues that would be received, there is still a lot uncertainty about the accuracy of those numbers. It is well known that the figures relied on by Burien have taken a conservative approach (costs estimated high and revenues estimated low), but the uncertainty continues to be a source of concern for Burien officials.
    The second is Seattle’s continuing threats of litigation to stop Burien from annexing. When Burien adopted its PAA, Seattle followed up by adopting its own PAA then sued to have Burien’s PAA stricken. When Burien approved an election to annex part of NH, Seattle threatened to sue to stop it. Virtually every discussion with Burien officials (public and private) has included concerns that Seattle will sue if it does not get its way.

    The discussion of an agreement between the cities really gets to the heart of the problem. Burien wants the citizens of NH to decide, and the way to do that is to schedule an election. Each city can only set an election for annexation to itself, so if Burien wants an election it has to be on annexation to Burien. Seattle wants its officials to decide, and the way to do that is through an interlocal agreement on annexation (under an interlocal agreement, King County and the cities bordering NH would agree on annexation without an election).

  34. Concerned Firefighter Says:

    It seems that many of you have concerns about the management and direction of the North Highline Fire Department. These concerns seem to be about two things; how North Highline is currently managed and what the future of the area will be.

    First I understand your misgivings about how the North Highline Fire District spends taxpayer money. Your Firefighters are also concerned, as this affects them and their livelihoods.

    I also understand your misgivings about the actions of the commissioners. I agree with low key about how Barb Peters doesn’t represent the fire district well. Just because she voted against Chief LaVielle’s salary, she is still a politician with an agenda, which is annexation to Burien. Her job as a commissioner is to ensure the taxpayers are getting proper service, not to use her position as a political platform. She has time and time again been unable to do this. Her duties as a fire commissioner must be separated from her political agenda. As long as she is not able to consider Seattle as a viable option of any kind she limits your options for receiving the best possible fire protection.

    As far as annexation and the future of the fire district go, you have commissioners with agendas, and a fire chief with a big paycheck. It’s no wonder little to no actual progress is ever made towards a stable future for this community. The afore mentioned players are all standing in the way.

    History aside you are looking at one service provider. Fire Service is critical, and as such you should understand what you are getting for your money. I encourage you to look hard at both departments, Burien and Seattle, there are big differences. Numbers alone bear this out. The first alarm assignment of firefighters for a house fire in North Highline and Burien is currently 10 to 15 firefighters depending on staffing which varies, in Seattle that number jumps to approximately 32. It’s numbers like these that should be a primary concern to a fire district commissioner.

    Also understand that Burien as a city contracts out for many services, services that are paid for by junior taxing districts, not the city. For example Burien doesn’t pay for fire protection, or other services. Seattle pays for and provides all services. Another rumor that should be dispelled is that city of Seattle has never filed any law suits against the city of Burien in regards to annexation. Both cities have considered litigation in their efforts for annexation. Bottom line you should encourage your community leaders to support any additional state funding that would come to a community that is in dire need of economical relief. If Burien and Seattle work together that could result in another 1.2 to 6 million dollars to White Center and Boulevard Park. Which by state law would be required to be spent in the annexed area. Is that money the community can pass up due to small town politics?

    In summary I encourage you all to become involved and informed of your options. As one of your firefighters I am extremely concerned about the future of Boulevard Park and White Center and I too share your frustrations with the current political climate. Understand one thing your firefighters are completely dedicated to serving you as citizens. We have little to no influence as to the management of the dept and are as unhappy as you all are, decisions are made from the top. We need your help as citizens to be our bosses boss.

    Concerned Firefighter

  35. I agree that our firefighters provide excellent services. There’s no question there. They perform their duties beyond.

    However, you being a concerned firefighter about it’s current management is questionable.
    It sounds like you are concerned and wrapped in the annexation issue yourself. I’m not saying that it’s wrong, it is important because it will affect your livelihood and you should be paying attention. I would do the same.

    It also sounds like you and low key would prefer a Seattle annexation and perhaps – that’s your agendas for targeting Barb Peters.
    For claiming to be so concerned, you would think that you would be targeting all three of them!

    Past minutes from the commissioner meetings show exactly who mismanaged and is currently still mismanaging our NHFD.

    Like you said, people should stay informed and look at all the options.

    More importantly – they should read the minutes or listen to the tapes to get the truth!

  36. How does one find the minutes from the commissioners’ meetings?

  37. You can write them at:
    North Highline Fire District
    1243 SW 112th Street
    Seattle, WA 98146
    or e-mail them at:
    You will need to request a public disclosure form from the NHFD to obtain the minutes.

  38. That’s crazy. They shouldn’t make it that difficult for the taxpayers to see public documents. Is that legal?

  39. Valkyrie,
    I’m not an attorney, but as far as I know it is legal.

    One of the reasons I’ve been urging people to write to the North Highline Commissioners and ask them to put the agendas and minutes on-line is so that they will feel some pressure to do that so that their constituents won’t have to jump through hoops to find out this information.

    Other Fire Commissions have their minutes/agendas on-line.
    Here’s just two examples:
    South King County Fire and Rescue(Cities of Fed. Way and Des Moines)
    Maple Valley Fire & Life Services