Firefighting agency slated to expand
Washington County commissioners are preparing to approve two annexations that will extend Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue into Newberg and surrounding areas.
The board is scheduled to consider the annexations at a public hearing as part of its business meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19.
Unless it receives voter petitions to force an election, the commissioners can approve outright the addition of 6 square miles of Newberg and 55 square miles of the former Newberg Rural Fire Protection District into TVFR.
With the pair of pending annexations, TVFR — based in Tualatin — will provide service through its 25 stations in four counties. TVFR covers all of eastern Washington County and extends into Multnomah County northwest of Portland, and into Wilsonville and West Linn in Clackamas County.
TVFR began serving Newberg and the rural area by contract back on July 1, 2016.
On Nov. 7, Newberg voters approved a formal annexation to TVFR by 69 percent. Newberg rural voters approved a pair of measures to dissolve the district and annex to TVFR by more than 60 percent.
"There were some fears they were losing some ownership of their department," said Clark Balfour, TVFR board president, at a Washington County board meeting to set the hearing date.
But he said TVFR went out of its way to assure voters they would still get community service, "and in the past two years, we've proven to a lot of our naysayers" that TVFR can do so.
Landowners in both are paying higher property taxes — 20 cents more per $1,000 of taxable value in Newberg, and $1.65 more in the surrounding rural area.
But as part of the larger TVFR district, they are assured of four-person coverage around the clock at each of the two area stations, instead of two people during the day and one at night.
"We lacked resources" for full staffing, said Joe Hannan, Newberg city manager.
Also speaking for the annexations was Les Hallman, former Newberg fire chief and now an assistant TVFR chief.
TVFR traces its founding back almost 70 years, although it acquired its current name in 1989.
It has grown through recent annexations. But Cassandra Ulven, TVFR public affairs chief, said no other large-scale actions are pending.