County acts to protect emergency services in City of Pacific

Pete von Reichbauer, King County councilmember, discusses the situation with Leanne Guier, Pacific City Council president.  - Courtesy photo
Pete von Reichbauer, King County councilmember, discusses the situation with Leanne Guier, Pacific City Council president.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted an ordinance providing vital services to residents in the city of Pacific if the city loses its liability insurance coverage.

"The public should not suffer because politicians cannot agree amongst themselves. Our role as public servants is to make sure there is a safety net for King County taxpayers," said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, the prime sponsor of the legislation. "With this legislation, King County can provide a seamless transition of critical services for the City of Pacific, if necessary.

"I also want to compliment the King County Executive and my colleagues on the council for their commitment to insuring that Pacific residents will have emergency and other civic services as needed."

Pacific is facing the possibility of losing its liability insurance coverage effective Jan. 1 and could therefore lose most or all of its staff at that time, meaning the City will be likely left without a Council or necessary staff to carry out their duties.

"As the city's government decides its future, the residents of Pacific need to know that if there's an emergency, will there be services available," said Council Chair Larry Gossett. "This legislation gives them the knowledge that there will be assistance for them if it's needed."

"It is distressing for the city and its residents when the future of the local government and who will provide services is uncertain," said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. "It is my hope that this agreement will provide the assurance of continuity for emergency services that will allow the community to move forward with plans for the future."

"It is our hope that the situation in Pacific is quickly resolved, but the City's residents need vital public services," said Councilmember Joe McDermott. "I'm happy that King County is stepping in to help to ensure the safety of the residents of Pacific should the City lose its insurance."

The Pacific City Council is looking at a number of options if they were to lose their insurance, and one of those options is the disincorporation of the City.

The ordinance adopted by the Council calls for the signing of an interlocal agreement to provide the residents of Pacific that live within King County specific services if the City loses its insurance coverage:

• 911 Emergency Response, Major Crime Investigation and Patrol Services (based upon availability) through the King County Sheriff's Office.

• Emergency Road Repairs.

• Flooding issues.

The Interlocal Agreement calls for the County to be paid by the City for the costs incurred in providing services. These will likely only be for police services unless there are any major roads or flooding issues.

A portion of Pacific is in Pierce County, and the Pierce County Council is looking at similar measures.

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