After years of discussion about a variety of possible mergers between Sunnyside and East Carbon City, local officials have finally decided on a committee which will work to combine the cities' fire and ambulance services.
Sunnyside and East Carbon officials agreed to have the cities' mayors, their fire chiefs and one council member make up a board to work out the details.
According to Sunnyside Mayor Doug Parsons, his city's committee will be comprised of council member Nola Porter, Fire Chief Gene Madrid and Parsons himself.
"Nola is already overseeing the business of our fire department," explained Parsons. "So she seemed like the obvious choice to become a part of this committee."
East Carbon officials will not have the opportunity to select their committee members until their next session on Feb. 29. However, the committee is planning to start meeting as soon as the board is made whole.
"We would like to get this process moving as soon as we can," continued the Sunnyside mayor. "There are many issues which the board will have to go through and the sooner they can start meeting the better."
According to Parsons, budget matters will be one of the first issues the board will have to go through. For instance, members of the Sunnyside and East Carbon fire departments are provided stipend at different rates, an issue that will have to be addressed before the municipalities can move forward. Additionally, the mayor stated that he didn't feel a seventh tie-breaking committee member was necessary in the formation of the board.
"Most likely the board will also be charged with deciding who the new district's chief will be," said the Sunnyside mayor. "They will also set the tax rate which the new district will charge."
Because the district will encompass both cities, public hearings and a final referendum vote will have to take place among the area's residents before the district can be officially formed.
"I really think this district will benefit the residents of both cities," continued Parsons. "As this process moves forward support should come not only from area officials but from the local population as well."
Both cities have reported that they do see benefits to bring their public safety teams under one roof, however for Sunnyside the issue also has financial ramifications. Due to the fact that the city's largest tax contributor has paid this year's taxes under protest, the local municipality has had to put aside a large some of their budget, meaning that many services may see cuts.
"The ambulance service is something that both communities value greatly," concluded Parsons. "And this merger will be a great way to insure the viability of that service."