Surprise: Mountlake Terrace, Brier receive retroactive bills from Snohomish County Fire District 1

The cities of Mountlake Terrace and Brier both have received significant bills from Snohomish County Fire District 1 related to retroactive pay raises for the Fire District’s union employees.

Mountlake Terrace’s bill is $665,000, while Brier’s was just over $256,000. The retroactive payments are for represented employee pay raises accruing from 2013 and 2014.

The size of the bills surprised officials from both cities, which contract with Snohomish County Fire District 1 for fire services.

“It’s a significant amount of money,” Mountlake Terrace city manager Arlene Fisher said. “Is it going to hurt our 2015 budget? Absolutely. Because our 2015 budget was done. We were happy. We had a black line. We had black numbers and we were really proud of that. And then, there came the bill.”

Brier Mayor Bob Colinas said the City was aware of the potential for added expense pending the final outcome of the fire personnel union negotiations and contract settlement.

“We had not expected the union contract settlement to generate that high amount,” Colinas said. “In the weeks to come we will be reviewing details of the cost accounting to confirm the number we had been given is correct.”

Mountlake Terrace also will be conferring with Fire District officials on the numbers. The City pays a set annual amount of $2.7 million.

“I will say over the last three years or so they’ve left their numbers static,” Fisher said. “It includes labor but there are some other costs in there that we’re not sure about, and that’s what we need to ferret out. …The Fire District is willing to work with us. Am I going to write them a check tomorrow? No. But we’ll definitely work something out. Was it a shock? Absolutely. But we’ll figure it out one way or another.”

As for the future, Fisher noted that the Fire District has “given us some indication, not really firm hard numbers, of what 15-16 might be so we’ve incorporated that into our budget.”



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