Voters in Hermiston and?Stanfield will choose in 2014 whether to form a unified fire district, and a new steering committee is tasked with educating the public on the steps to make it happen.

Hermiston City Council on Monday decided to send to voters the option of dismantling the individual fire districts in Stanfield and?Hermiston and create one for the region. Fire Reformation Steering Committee members met Thursday at Eastern Oregon Higher Education to discuss the next steps for a potential new fire district.

Committee members are waiting to hear back from an attorney who is guiding them through the process to form a political action committee, which would fund a campaign for a new district.

“To spend any money on campaigning, it has to come from the political action committee,” said Pat Hart, Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services chief.

Both Hermiston and Stanfield city councils are on board with sending the option of forming a combined fire district to the ballot in the November 2014 election. In order to form a new fire district, each town would need to dissolve its own fire district and then form a new one, a decision voters will make in next year’s general election.

A yes vote would also raise the property tax rate in Hermiston by 80 cents, from $1.20 per $1,000 of assessed value to an estimated $2 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In the meantime, the Fire Reformation Committee wants to educate themselves on what a new district would look like and what it could mean, if implemented, for both communities.

A meeting has been tentatively been scheduled for late June at Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center.

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