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Fire district consolidation must go to public vote

It seems almost a foregone conclusion that the Boring Fire District and the Clackamas Fire District No. 1 will someday combine to form one larger entity serving a geographic region stretching from Eagle Creek to Oregon City.

A consolidated district certainly has potential of improving efficiency in government by streamlining recruitment, unifying promotional processes and reducing the duplication of efforts, all of which has potential to save money in the long run. Those are solid reasons for considering the consolidation.

There are three scenarios that could make this consolidation a reality: 1) A vote of the people to combine the two districts; 2) A simple contract for services between the two districts; or 3) The annexation of the Boring district into Clackamas.

We are convinced that there is only one wise road leading to this merger: That road would lead straight through the formal election process. It’s the only way to measure whether people truly support consolidation.

Assuming voters agree with the merger, it would jump start a second election that resets the board of directors and establishes a date for when that board would take office.

In other words, an election is the only way to ensure East Clackamas County would have a voice on the board of directors of the combined districts.

On the other hand, with a simple contract for services, Clackamas Fire would assume the duties of day-to-day operations, and the Boring Fire District would become little more than a pass-through taxing entity.

Likewise, annexation would require a vote of the people, but it would not immediately lead to a reset of the board of directors.

That reset is critical. Consider this: The former Boring Fire District would represent a mere 10 percent of a combined district. Without representation on the board, there would be nobody to watch out for the best interests of the minority residents living in Boring, Eagle Creek or Damascus. There would be nobody to demand equal service for equal taxation.

Signs are pointing to the likelihood of an election, but that will depend on a decision made by the Boring Fire District’s board of directors. There still is no guarantee that this board won’t simply enter into a contract for services. There’s nothing standing in the way of that happening.

We do know that all five members of the Boring Fire District — during the last election cycle — publicly expressed support of taking this issue before the voters. We are hopeful that these board members won’t disappoint the residents of the Boring Fire District by breaking their campaign promises.

A formal election on consolidation is the only justifiable option.



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