County Commission moves to bring Hurricane, Leeds into fire district

HURRICANE – The Washington County Commission moved to annex the City of Hurricane, and Leeds Town and areas of eastern Washington County into the Hurricane Valley Fire Special Service District.

The commission approved the matter in two resolutions after two public hearings, at the regular meeting Tuesday which was held at the Hurricane City Council Chambers. During the meeting, two public hearings were held, but no members of the public spoke.

Hurricane, Leeds and the fire district requested the annexation, county administrator Dean Cox said.

There are also a few parcels of land in the eastern part of the county that are not currently served by a fire special service district, and the county would like to bring those properties into the district at the same time as the Hurricane and Leeds annexation, Cox said.

Hurricane City Councilwoman Pam Humphries, who was in attendance at the meeting, said rejoining the fire district benefits the city, the county and the citizens.

Hurricane withdrew from the fire district in 2010, Cox said, although residents have not been at risk.

We’ve never ceased operating as a single district,” county administrator Dean Cox said. The communities stayed in the district and they contracted with Hurricane City for coverage, until this year. This year Hurricane City contracted with the district for coverage. So we reversed the roles.”

Cox suspects that because business property taxes went up during the economic downturn, business owners associated the increase with the fire district.

Hurricane City Councilwoman Pam Humphries echoed Cox’s opinion.

“I think it’s because some of the business owners … their property taxes went through the roof, and they came and complained,” Humphries said.

“It probably would have evened out if they had waited a year,” she said. “But they just decided, ‘No, it’s not going to work, let’s pull out now, before we get in too deep.'”

The next step in the process is a 60-day protest period during which residents of the affected areas can register a protest with Washington County Clerk/Auditor Kim Hafen.

If 25 percent of the voters, or 25 percent of the property value represented by protesters, protest the move, the county cannot take action. Following the 60-day period, there is a 30-day protest withdrawal period during which anyone who registers a protest can withdraw it.

Cox expects the commission will approve the annexation within 90 days, if there is no opposition, he said.

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