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Intergovernmental agreement between Woodburn and Hubbard fire districts aims at more efficient operations, including administrative tasks

The board of directors for the Woodburn Fire District and Hubbard Fire District have moved closer to an intergovernmental agreement (IGA), which officials believe with fortify both districts.

Woodburn Fire Chief Joe Budge said the terms of the agreement are basically in place and the contract should be solidified after some tinkering. At that time, more details about contract specifics will be released.

"This has been underway for quite some time," Budge said. "The boards are trying to get the agreement in place, and right now they are fine tuning some details, but they are not quite ready to sign the agreement."

Budge said he anticipates that the agreement may be ready by the WFD board's next meeting, Nov. 13.

"I expect it to be signed then, and I will have the full terms of the agreement at that time," he said.

Budge did emphasize that the IGA does not hinge on the local option levy before voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"It has no bearing at all; we'll do this regardless of whether the levy passes or not," Budge said.

If approved, the bond would increase district property tax rates from $1.79 per $1,000 assessed value to $2.14, which district officials maintain "would ensure that a paramedic capable of providing advanced life support is on duty at all times. Funds from the levy would also ensure that a minimum of four career firefighters, including an advanced life support paramedic, are on duty in Woodburn at all times."

The IGA appears to be aimed at streamlining some tasks, which in turn should strengthen both Woodburn and Hubbard's operations.

"It's just an exchange of services between the two districts," Budge said. "It's mutually beneficial to both districts; it just provides an improved level of services for both districts."

Key to that is administrative services.

"That's exactly what it is, a cost saving measure for both districts," said Hubbard Assistant Chief Mike Kahrmann. "What it's going to do for Hubbard is we can't really afford to pay someone to come in to do the administrative work.

"It should come in within the first two weeks of November," he added. "They are finalizing — the attorneys are finalizing — the verbiage in the IGA."

Woodburn employs 12 line firefighters and 3.5 administrative positions, including the fire marshal, who is part time. Hubbard has two full-time employees who work 8-to-5 assignments. Woodburn has about 25 volunteer firefighters and Hubbard has 24. Woodburn's district serves 75 square miles and includes Gervais, Waconda and Broadacres. Hubbard serves roughly 7 square miles.

The districts frequently respond mutually to calls, as do other districts adjacent to Woodburn.

"That happens many times," Budge said. "Any large incident will get automatic responses from both departments. Single-unit response is part of this agreement and how those will be utilized."

Besides Hubbard, other fire districts bordering Woodburn are St. Paul, Aurora, Monitor, Mount Angel and Marion County District 1.

Budge said consolidation of district resources is common, citing Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Clackamas Fire District as examples.

"It just makes for more administrative and operational efficiencies," he said. "There is no payment being made either way; just shared resources that are mutually beneficial for both."

Budge added that conversations about forming the IGA first emerged around Aug. 1 when Hubbard's chief announced his pending departure. Those conversations appear headed to fruition.

"I don't see anything that will derail it at this point," Budge said.

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