Fire district begins paying back Hoquiam

Nearly three months after the City of Hoquiam threatened to terminate EMS service to Fire District 16, the rural district has started to pay off its past-due bills.

Commissioners for the district, located in Copalis Crossing, sent a $2,500 check to the city on Sept. 22. In the attached letter, the commissioners promised to contribute $475 per month to the $8,874 balance until the debt is paid.

“We feel that this proposal is a notion of good faith to fulfill our obligation with the past-due bill in the amount of $11,374,” the letter read.

The letter also expressed hopes that EMS and fire levies on the November ballot will pass, easing the district’s financial situation.

Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay said he hopes the debt will be settled in about 18 months, and the city is working to draft an agreement with Fire District 16 to continue providing EMS service.

However, city officials haven’t heard anything from Fire District 17 commissioners regarding a past-due balance of about $20,600. The district, located in Humptulips, also received a shut-off notice in early July.

Richard Dixon, chief of Fire District 17, told The Daily World in a Sept. 13 email that his district has no immediate plans to pay back the city.

“What we told the city was that once we have taken care of our department first, we need to spend money to bring things up to a minimal safety standard, then we would look at a payment plan,” Dixon said. “There use to be a day when we all got along but then politics and the economy got involved.”