Chapter 52.06 RCW

MERGER

Sections

52.06.001Actions subject to review by boundary review board.
52.06.010Merger of districts authorizedReviewDefinition.
52.06.020PetitionContents.
52.06.030Action on petitionSpecial election.
52.06.050Vote requiredStatus after favorable vote.
52.06.060Merger by petition.
52.06.070Obligations of merged districts.
52.06.080Delivery of property and funds.
52.06.085Board membership upon merger of districtsSubsequent boardsCreation of commissioner districts.
52.06.090Merger of part of district with a district within reasonable proximity.
52.06.100Merger of part of district with adjacent districtWhen election unnecessary.
52.06.110Transfer of employees.
52.06.120Transfer of employeesRights and benefits.
52.06.130Transfer of employeesNoticeTime limitation.
52.06.140Merger of districts located in different countiesDistrict name.
52.06.150Merger of districts located in same countyDistrict name.


Actions subject to review by boundary review board.

Actions taken under chapter 52.06 RCW may be subject to potential review by a boundary review board under chapter 36.93 RCW.



Merger of districts authorizedReviewDefinition.

(1) A fire protection district may merge with another fire protection district located within a reasonable proximity, on such terms and conditions as they agree upon, in the manner provided in this title. The fire protection districts may be located in different counties. The district desiring to merge with another district, or the district from which it is proposed that a portion of the district be merged with another district, shall be called the "merging district." The district into which the merger is to be made shall be called the "merger district." The merger of any districts under chapter 52.06 RCW is subject to potential review by the boundary review board or boards of the county in which the merging district, or the portion of the merging district that is proposed to be merged with another district, is located.
(2) For the purposes of this section, "reasonable proximity" means geographical areas near enough to each other so that governance, management, and services can be delivered effectively.
[ 2017 c 326 § 10; 1989 c 63 § 13; 1984 c 230 § 57; 1947 c 254 § 12; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151a. Formerly RCW 52.24.010.]



PetitionContents.

To effect such a merger, a petition to merge shall be filed with the board of the merger district by the commissioners of the merging district. The commissioners of the merging district may sign and file the petition on their own initiative, and they shall file a petition when it is signed by ten percent of the registered voters resident in the merging district who voted in the last general municipal election and presented to the board of commissioners. The petition shall state the reasons for the merger, state the terms and conditions under which the merger is proposed, and request the merger.
[ 1990 c 259 § 13; 1984 c 230 § 58; 1947 c 254 § 13; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151b. Formerly RCW 52.24.020.]



Action on petitionSpecial election.

The board of the merger district may, by resolution, reject or approve the petition as presented, or it may modify the terms and conditions of the proposed merger, and shall transmit the petition, together with a copy of its resolution to the merging district.
If the petition is approved as presented or as modified, the board of the merging district shall send an elector-signed petition, if there is one, to the auditor or auditors of the county or counties in which the merging district is located, who shall within thirty days examine the signatures and certify to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures. If the merging district is located in more than one county, the auditor of the county within which the largest portion of the merging district is located shall be the lead auditor. Each other auditor shall certify to the lead auditor the number of valid signatures and the number of registered voters of the merging district who reside in the county. The lead auditor shall certify as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures. No signatures may be withdrawn from the petition after the filing. A certificate of sufficiency shall be provided to the board of the merging district, which shall adopt a resolution requesting the county auditor or auditors to call a special election, as provided in RCW 29A.04.330, for the purpose of presenting the question of merging the districts to the voters of the merging district.
If there is no elector-signed petition, the merging district board shall adopt a resolution requesting the county auditor or auditors to call a special election in the merging district, as specified under RCW 29A.04.330, for the purpose of presenting the question of the merger to the electors.
[ 2015 c 53 § 74; 1989 c 63 § 14; 1984 c 230 § 59; 1947 c 254 § 14; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151c. Formerly RCW 52.24.030.]



Vote requiredStatus after favorable vote.

The board of the merging district shall notify the board of the merger district of the results of the election. If a majority of the votes cast at the election favor the merger, the respective district boards shall adopt concurrent resolutions, declaring the districts merged, under the name of the merger district. Thereupon the districts are merged into one district, under the name of the merger district; the merging district is dissolved without further proceedings; and the boundaries of the merger district are thereby extended to include all the area of the merging district. Thereafter the legal existence cannot be questioned by any person by reason of any defect in the proceedings had for the merger.
[ 1995 c 79 § 1; 1947 c 254 § 16; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151e. Formerly RCW 52.24.050.]



Merger by petition.

If three-fifths of all the qualified electors in the merging district sign the petition to merge, no election on the question of the merger is necessary and the auditor, or lead auditor if the merging district is located in more than a single county, shall return the petition, together with a certificate of sufficiency to the board of the merging district. The boards of the respective districts shall then adopt resolutions declaring the districts merged in the same manner and to the same effect as if the merger had been authorized by an election.
[ 1989 c 63 § 15; 1984 c 230 § 61; 1947 c 254 § 17; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151f. Formerly RCW 52.24.060.]



Obligations of merged districts.

None of the obligations of the merged districts or of a local improvement district located in the merged districts may be affected by the merger and dissolution, and all land liable to be assessed to pay any of the indebtedness shall remain liable to the same extent as if the districts had not been merged and any assessments previously levied against the land shall remain unimpaired and shall be collected in the same manner as if the districts had not merged. The commissioners of the merged district shall have all the powers of the two districts to levy, assess, and cause to be collected all assessments against any land in both districts that may be necessary to pay for the indebtedness thereof, and until the assessments are collected and all indebtedness of the districts paid, separate funds shall be maintained for each district as were maintained before the merger: PROVIDED, That the board of the merged district may, with the consent of the creditors of the districts merged, cancel any or all assessments previously levied, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the merger, so that the lands in the respective districts bear their fair and proportionate share of the indebtedness.
[ 1984 c 230 § 62; 1947 c 254 § 18; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151g. Formerly RCW 52.24.070.]



Delivery of property and funds.

The commissioners of the merging district shall, upon completion of the merger, transfer, convey, and deliver to the merged district all property and funds of the merging district, together with all interest in and right to collect any assessments previously levied.
[ 1984 c 230 § 63; 1947 c 254 § 19; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 5654-151h. Formerly RCW 52.24.080.]



Board membership upon merger of districtsSubsequent boardsCreation of commissioner districts.

(1) Whenever two or more fire protection districts merge, the board of fire commissioners of the merged fire protection district shall consist of all of the fire commissioners of the districts that are merging, including a person who is elected as a fire commissioner of one of the merging districts at that same election that the ballot proposition was approved authorizing the merger, who shall retain the same terms of office they would possess as if the merger had not been approved. The number of members on the board of the merged district shall be reduced to either three or five members as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, depending on whether the district has chosen to eventually have either a three-member or a five-member board under RCW 52.14.020.
(2) The number of members on the board of the merged district shall be reduced by one whenever a fire commissioner resigns from office or a vacancy otherwise occurs on the board, until the number of remaining members is reduced to the number of members that is chosen for the board eventually to have. The reduction of membership on the board shall not be considered to be a vacancy that is to be filled until the number of remaining members is less than the number of members on the board that is chosen for the board eventually to have.
(3) At the next three district general elections after the merger is approved, the number of fire commissioners for the merged district that are elected shall be as follows, notwithstanding the number of fire commissioners whose terms expire:
(a) In the first election after the merger, only one position shall be filled, whether the new fire protection district be a three-member district or a five-member district.
(b) In each of the two subsequent elections, one position shall be filled if the new fire protection district is a three-member district and two positions shall be filled if the new fire protection district is a five-member district.
Thereafter, the fire commissioners shall be elected in the same manner as prescribed for such fire protection districts of the state.
(4) A ballot proposition to create commissioner districts may be submitted to the voters of the fire protection districts proposed to be merged at the same election the ballot proposition is submitted authorizing the merging of the fire protection districts. The procedure to create commissioner districts shall conform with RCW 52.14.013, except that: (a) Resolutions proposing the creation of commissioner districts must be adopted by unanimous vote of the boards of fire commissioners of each of the fire protection districts that are proposed to be merged; and (b) commissioner districts will be authorized only if the ballot propositions to authorize the merger and to create commissioner districts are both approved. A ballot proposition authorizing the creation of commissioner districts is approved if it is approved by a simple majority vote of the combined voters of all the fire protection districts proposed to be merged. The commissioner districts shall not be drawn until the number of commissioners in the fire protection district has been reduced under subsections (1) through (3) of this section to either three or five commissioners. After this reduction of fire commissioners has occurred the commissioner districts shall be drawn and used for the election of the successor fire commissioners.



Merger of part of district with a district within reasonable proximity.

A part of one district may be transferred and merged with a district located within reasonable proximity if the area can be better served by the merged district. To effect such a merger, a petition, signed by a majority of the commissioners of the merging district or signed by not less than fifteen percent of the qualified electors residing in the area to be merged, shall be filed with the commissioners of the merging district, if signed by electors, or with the commissioners of the merger district if signed by commissioners of the merging district. If the commissioners of the merging district approve the petition, the petition shall be presented to the commissioners of the merger district. If the commissioners of the merger district approve the petition, an election shall be called in the area to be merged.
In the event that either board of fire district commissioners does not approve the petition, the partial merger must not proceed.
A majority of the votes cast is necessary to approve the transfer.



Merger of part of district with adjacent districtWhen election unnecessary.

If the partial merger petition has been approved by the commissioners of the merging district and the merger district and if three-fifths of the qualified electors in the area to be merged sign a petition to merge the districts, no election on the question of the merger is necessary, in which case the auditor or lead auditor shall return the petition, together with a certificate of sufficiency, to the board of the merger district. The board of the merger district shall then adopt a resolution declaring the portion of the district merged in the same manner and to the same effect as if the same had been authorized by an election.



Transfer of employees.

When any portion of a fire protection district merges with another fire protection district, any employee of the merging district who (1) was at the time of merger employed exclusively or principally in performing the powers, duties, and functions which are to be performed by the merger district (2) will, as a direct consequence of the merger, be separated from the employ of the merging district, and (3) can perform the duties and meet the minimum requirements of the position to be filled, then such employee may transfer employment to the merger district as provided in this section and RCW 52.06.120 and 52.06.130.
For purposes of this section and RCW 52.06.120 and 52.06.130, employee means an individual whose employment with a fire protection district has been terminated because the fire protection district merged with another fire protection district for purposes of fire protection.



Transfer of employeesRights and benefits.

(1) An eligible employee may transfer into the merger district by filing a written request with the board of fire commissioners of the merger district and by giving written notice to the board of fire commissioners of the merging district. Upon receipt of such request by the board of the merger district the transfer of employment shall be made. The employee so transferring will (a) be on probation for the same period as are new employees of the merger district in the position filled, but if the transferring employee has already completed a probationary period as a firefighter prior to the transfer, then the employee may only be terminated during the probationary period for failure to adequately perform assigned duties, not meeting the minimum qualifications of the position, or behavior that would otherwise be subject to disciplinary action, (b) be eligible for promotion no later than after completion of the probationary period, (c) receive a salary at least equal to that of other new employees of the merger district in the position filled, and (d) in all other matters, such as retirement, vacation, and sick leave, have, all the rights, benefits, and privileges to which he or she would have been entitled to as an employee of the merger district from the beginning of employment with the merging district: PROVIDED, That for purposes of layoffs by the merger fire agency, only the time of service accrued with the merger agency shall apply unless an agreement is reached between the collective bargaining representatives of the employees of the merging and merger fire agencies and the merging and merger fire agencies. The board of the merging district shall, upon receipt of such notice, transmit to the board of the merger district a record of the employee's service with the merging district which shall be credited to such employee as a part of the period of employment in the merger district. All accrued benefits are transferable provided that the recipient agency provides comparable benefits. All benefits shall then accrue based on the combined seniority of each employee in the recipient agency.
(2) As many of the transferring employees shall be placed upon the payroll of the merger district as the merger district determines are needed to provide services. These needed employees shall be taken in order of seniority and the remaining employees who transfer as provided in this section and RCW 52.06.110 and 52.06.130 shall head the list for employment in order of their seniority, to the end that they shall be the first to be reemployed in the merger district when appropriate positions become available: PROVIDED, That employees who are not immediately hired by the fire protection district shall be placed on a reemployment list for a period not to exceed thirty-six months unless a longer period is authorized by an agreement reached between the collective bargaining representatives of the employees of the merging and merged fire agencies and the merging and merged fire agencies.

NOTES:

Effective date1994 c 73: See note following RCW 35.10.365.



Transfer of employeesNoticeTime limitation.

If, as a result of merging of districts any employee is laid off who is eligible to transfer to the merger district under this section and RCW 52.06.110 and 52.06.120, the merging district shall notify the employee of the right to transfer and the employee shall have ninety days to transfer employment to the merger district.



Merger of districts located in different countiesDistrict name.

A merger fire protection district located in a single county, that merged with a merging fire protection district located in another county or counties, shall be identified by the name of each county in which the fire protection district is located, listed alphabetically, followed by a number that is the next highest number available for a fire protection district in the one of these counties that has the greatest number of fire protection districts.
This section does not apply to partial mergers under RCW 52.06.090.



Merger of districts located in same countyDistrict name.

A fire protection district resulting from the merger of two or more fire protection districts located in the same county shall be identified by the name of the county and the number of the merger fire protection district. However, the fire protection district resulting from such a merger shall be identified by the number of the merging district or one of the merging districts if a resolution providing for this number change is adopted by the board of fire commissioners of the district resulting from the merger or if resolutions providing for this number change are adopted by each of the boards of fire commissioners of the districts proposed to be merged.