By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
According to a December 14, 2016, press release City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto has formed an experienced team to represent the City of Mill Creek in ongoing contract negotiations with Snohomish County Fire District 7.
Mill Creek’s current contract with Fire District 7 expires on December 31, 2016, but it provides automatic renewal provisions that allow fire and emergency medical services to be delivered while negotiations continue.
Interim Public Information Officer / Police Chief Greg Elwin wrote, “The City is proposing a six-year contract to coincide with the length of the EMS levy approved by Mill Creek voters in November, 2016. The cost to the City of a new six year Fire and EMS service contract is approximately $25 million.”
Polizzotto said, “This contract represents a significant impact to the City budget. Therefore, it is imperative to assemble a team of individuals who possess the necessary historical, financial and legal expertise to help negotiate a contract that protects the interests of the taxpayers of Mill Creek while also fairly compensating Fire District 7 for services provided.”
Elwin wrote, “The City Manager has assembled a contract negotiating team comprised of individuals with a wide array of public and private sector experience.”
“City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto leads the team. Her experience and leadership in both city government, and as a Chief Assistant Attorney General, positions her well to take the lead.”
“Ms. Polizzotto is joined by City of Mill Creek Director of Finance and Administration Peggy Lauerman, Mill Creek City Attorney Scott Missall, and former Mill Creek City Manager Bob Stowe.”
“Each of the team members bring knowledge and experience that will be very beneficial for both sides as negotiations move forward.”
It’s interesting to note that Stowe was city manager and Missall was city attorney when the current fire contract was first negotiated 20 years ago.
Elwin said that Stowe “will be able to speak first-hand as to the original intent and purpose of various contract provisions” and Missall “has been involved in the evolution of the contract for the past two decades.”
Mill Creek’s contract with Fire District 7 has been amended three times in the last 20 years.
Amendment two, which took effect in 2011, improved the average emergency response time to six minutes by adding two designated emergency medical services personnel to Mill Creek Fire Station 76’s original three-person firefighting crew.
Tim Burns was Mill Creek’s city manager and Missall was city attorney at the time amendment two was signed.
Amendment three, which was negotiated in 2011 and 2012, was necessary because Fire District 7’s actual costs for running Mill Creek Fire Station 76 were much higher than the city’s contracted payments.
Former Public Works Director Tom Gathmann was acting city manager and Shane Moloney was city attorney at the time amendment three was signed.
The Mill Creek City Council plans to hold a special meeting on Tuesday, December 20, 2016, to hear city staff present information on the fire contract and to discuss the city’s options.
This discussion was originally scheduled for the Mill Creek City Council’s December 13th regular meeting, but Missall was not available and had to be rescheduled.