South Whidbey Record


LETTER TO THE EDITOR | New boat, station are too much for South Whidbey

September 4, 2013 · Updated 3:57 PM


Eventually our diligent fire district will be treated to the happiest day of a boat owner’s life, when they sell it. A fire boat, of all things, for $500,000 through a FEMA grant subsidy. Like a horse, however, the initial expense of a boat is soon dwarfed by the ongoing maintenance and outfitting.

Some might question just why we need a fire boat since waterfront, or any, fires are not all that common anymore. If that verb is changed to ‘want,’ the question clears up.

Water activities haven’t always been the focus of the fire district, however. In the past several years these landlubbers built or expanded five new stations at a cost in excess of $3.5 million and completed a couple of land purchases — 12 acres in Bayview and another 20 down the road. You see, when an organization has money it gets spent.

Since the fire district passed that tax levy in 2012, netting an extra $550,000 per year, they’ve followed the script. The chief’s salary jumped to $95,000, next came the boat, an item which ironically went unmentioned in the levy vote noted above.

But these were just warm-ups for the grand daddy, yet another new fire palace and administrative offices is planned for Bayview. Palace is probably not the right word but ‘station’ seems too modest for such attractive and well appointed structures.

In spending, this organization is on a tear. Like Google and Facebook, our fire business is after an expanded presence in the community with more users.

Organizations like to grow but this one needs to get back to the basics, which we all appreciate. No need to amass an empire with ambitions that exceed their purpose or the needs of this community. Then again, I guess it’s hard to pass up anything, much less a boat or new digs, when your revenues go from $600,000 to $4 million in 23 years, as the districts did from 1990 to 2013.

As a fire district commissioner was quoted in the paper, “We’ve outgrown our space.” I couldn’t agree more and doubt that acquiring more space or boats is the real answer to anything other than more expenses.

Sell the boat, get happy, forget that new campus thing and refocus on your ‘real’ mission, which you do so well.


South Whidbey


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