Mountlake Terrace likely to withdraw from ESCA, contract with county for emergency management services

City-of-MLT-logoThe City of Mountlake Terrace likely will be withdrawing from the Emergency Services Coordinating Agency (ESCA) and contracting with the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management (DEM) for emergency management services.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, Mountlake Terrace Deputy Chief of Police Pete Caw, who also is Vice Chair of the ESCA Board, provided an update on the options available for the City.

The ESCA has faced a number of staffing problems, including the retirement of its longtime director in 2014 and the replacement of an interim director. The ESCA Board contacted the DEM to inquire about becoming an active member of that agency. After some discussion, Board Members agreed that DEM could provide the same or superior level of service to the ESCA member cities at a lower cost. The Board has recommended that the ESCA dissolve.

Caw is confident the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management will be able to provide the services Mountlake Terrace needs. The DEM has agreen to take on extra staff and to meet with the City on a monthly basis. In addition, Caw would become a member of the Advisory Board. The large number of volunteers also would be handled by DEM.

The ESCA was created by an Interlocal Agreement in 1994 with original members Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Brier, Bothell and Woodway. Over the next 10 years, Mukilteo and the King County cities of Lake Forest Park, Woodinville and Kenmore joined. Bothell withdrew. The ESCA offices are located in the basement of Brier City Hall.

Mountlake Terrace’s 2015 assessment, which is determined by population, is $48,565. If the City were to remain in ESCA, the cost likely would rise significantly as it would be spread among the remaining members. Most of the other Cities in ESCA appear to be making plans to withdrawn.

Caw estimated the potential savings to the City to be between $10,000 and $20,000. If Mountlake Terrace is to withdraw from ESCA and enter an agreement with Snohomish County DEM, that intent must be conveyed prior to June 2015 in order to take effect in 2016.

Staff is recommending that the City of Mountlake Terrace withdraw from the ESCA Interlocal Agreement and join the other cities in negotiating emergency management services through Snohomish County DEM. The current ESCA agreement will allow the agency to operate through 2015. The issue will be brought back to the City Council for a vote at a future date.

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