Eagle Mountain mayor newest member of Unified Fire board
It's official. As of Jan. 1, Eagle Mountain became the first Utah County city to join the Salt Lake Valley Fire Service (SLVFS) area, the financing body of the Unified Fire Authority.
On Thursday, Eagle Mountain Mayor Heather Jackson was appointed by the city to be the 12th member on the SLVFS board. She joins representatives for Riverton, Alta, Cottonwood Heights, Herriman, Midvale, Holladay, Taylorsville and Salt Lake County.
"I'm very excited for the change," Jackson said.
Being part of the SLVFS area will cost Eagle Mountain taxpayers an additional $45.19 a year for a home valued at $200,000. But overall, the move will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, Jackson said.
"We would have needed to increase our taxes significantly," Jackson said Thursday. "The city was looking at an annual bill of $1 million; that has now been cut to $250,000."
Jackson said the city has tried to join a district for the past five years, but the timing wasn't right. When the city approached Utah County about contracting for fire services, it didn't receive a response. So Eagle Mountain officials turned to UFA. Only two written protests were submitted during the 30-day comment period.
"We felt like the economies of scale ... make it more affordable for our constituents here," she said.
City officials felt joining UFA made sense because Eagle Mountain faced large bills after three major wildfires in the 2012 season and would have needed to replace aged fire equipment and hire new firefighters.
The change means the city's costs to maintain its two fire stations and equipment will now covered by the UFA.
UFA spokesman Clint Mecham said adding a city near Camp Williams will speed the reaction to area wildland fires. During the 2010 Machine Gun Fire, crews had to wait for the flames to move into Salt Lake County and get approval from the state to provide aid, he said.
"UFA can now throw its entire weight of resources into the area," Mecham said. "Now by having Eagle Mountain annexed, we have the ability to respond to the south side of Camp Williams as well."
The biggest change residents will see soon will be an improvement in the city's Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating for fire coverage. Residents "may see a reduction in their [home] insurance rate," Jackson said.
The ISO rating is based on factors from training to response times, with 1 being the best ranking on a 1 to 10 scale. Eagle Mountain's rating has moved from six to a four, a change residents can report to their insurance companies.
With the addition of a Utah County city, the UFA board plans to meet next week and discuss a possible name change for the taxing district to better reflect its coverage area.