Eagle and Star fire departments to go separate ways

csewell@idahostatesman.comAugust 29, 2013 

After about 15 months of operating jointly and working toward permanent consolidation, the Eagle and Star fire departments are splitting up and going their separate ways next week.

The agencies have been operating as a single, unified department under a joint powers agreement since June 1, 2012. That agreement will officially end on Sept. 4 because the two fire commissions have been unable to reach an agreement on how to proceed.

In May, a committee formed to consider different options and determine the best course of action for the two districts moving forward. That committee — made up of Eagle and Star fire district commissioners and staff and members of the community —recommended permanently consolidation of the two districts. The group suggested the issue be placed on the ballot in November to allow both Eagle and Star residents to vote on the consolidation plan, according to Andrea Dearden, Eagle Fire Department spokesperson.

One of Eagle's concerns is the ability of the Star Fire District to continue paying its share of the joint district's bills.

"While they recognize the benefits of consolidation, Eagle Fire Commissioners realize their responsibility is to members of their district. Commissioners could not justify continuing to manage a joint department without proper payment from the Star Fire District for operating expenses in the months leading up to the proposed consolidation," said Dearden in a press release.

Eagle Fire Chief Mike Winkle and Star Fire Chief Kevin Courtney both said ending the joint operating agreement would not impact fire or emergency medical services in Eagle or Star.

Star Fire Commissioners have not yet issued a statement about the district's plans to move forward. The fire commission is meeting Thursday night to set its 2013-2014 budget.

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