South Whidbey Record


LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Fire chief missed point of letter

October 3, 2013 · Updated 2:39 PM


I’m pleased the fire chief responded to my recent letter, questioning the spending habits of that department over the last 23 years. I’m equally pleased with the service they provide in our community.

I guess we could argue over semantics, as the chief does in his rebuttal, such as whether an increase in salary is not really that, but just a cost of living adjustment. Or we could argue how many years the adjective “several” is reserved for, but let’s get to the meat.

My point in that letter was that the revenue of our fire district has increased dramatically over this span and that its spending practices seem based more on the volume of that revenue rather than what I consider common sense and the needs of this community.

Ironically (and unknowingly), the chief might just agree — with respect to that lusted-for new administration building, he states “The board renewed a contract to redesign our proposed Bayview administration building to downsize and make it affordable.”

Is that the criteria – can we afford it? What happened to, “Do we need it?” But he goes on to say, “The station is on hold and not under consideration at this time.” Is not the cart in front of the horse here?

Why do we need a fire boat whose upkeep and outfitting will dwarf its $500,000 acquisition? Why have we spent over $5 million to build or remodel five fire palaces over the last 20 years? Why are we sitting on two expensive parcels of property they refuse to sell? Does it really make sense to duplicate emergency medical service? Doesn’t an efficient dispatch system warrant some bucks?

My answer is because they want to grow far beyond the needs of this community, and with a revenue that has mushroomed from $600,000 in 1990 to $4 million in 2013, they are doing just that. Where’s the brake pedal?



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