It is a long road, but at least it's a smooth one so far in the effort to merge the fire and ambulance services of East Carbon and Sunnyside cities.
East county officials took yet another step toward the creation of a special service district for emergency services Tuesday evening as Sunnyside council members voted unanimously on the boundaries and name of the proposed district.
The resolution, which was drafted by Sunnyside attorney Craig M. Bunnell, defines that the service district will provide ambulance and fire protection for the cities of Sunnyside and East Carbon as well on county land from U.S. Hwy. 6 along State Road 123 east to the border of Emery County.
"We discussed the boundaries during our last chief's meeting," said Sunnyside Fire Chief Gene Madrid. "We think the area we have outlined will both serve the citizens of our cities as well as those living in the unincorporated county near our area."
While the boundaries of the district should be agreed upon easily by partner officials in East Carbon, the second item outlined in the resolution may be a little more tenuous. During Tuesday's session, Sunnyside officials also voted to name the organization the Sunnyside/East Carbon Special Service District.
By voting on the resolution Tuesday evening, Sunnyside officials were hoping to have the issue before the county commission during their meeting this week. However, because the East Carbon council does not meet until next week, consideration of Sunnyside's plans may have to wait.
According to East Carbon officials, they would like to have their city attorney review the new resolution, which defines the district, before they take any action. And while city leaders are carefully considering all aspects of the project, they also report being completely behind the new district.
"We still have quite a bit left to do," said East Carbon council member David Maggio. He said the city will have to adopt its own resolutions and hold public hearings on the matter.
"I can't see anything getting in the way of this. Either we team up and fund a viable ambulance and fire service or we turn it over to the county and then when we have a fire, we can call dispatch to put out what's left when they finally get there," quipped Maggio. "The populations of these towns are dwindling and with Sunnyside in limbo over their tax base, we need this."
It will be up to the county to set the special tax levy and formalize the district boundaries, which may include some areas outside the cities' limits. However, the merger appears to have the full support of the commission. "This is an awesome opportunity you guys have to move forward," commented Commissioner John Jones when council members Maggio of East Carbon and Shari Madrid of Sunnyside presented the proposal to the commission last month.