Opinion

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Fire merger needs

more transparency

I read with trepidation the article about funding for the Regional Fire Authority (“Fire merger still planned for November ballot,” Jan. 9, 2009). I was somewhat surprised that there is hesitation and, approximate estimates, on what the costs will be to fund and finance this mega-merger.

Over a year ago, the three fire chiefs involved in this consolidation told us that costs would be reduced and that efficiency would increase. They said it was the right thing to do and that it was good for the citizens. Those fire chiefs have nearly 75 years of fire department experience between them and earn individually, with salary and benefits, approximately $200,000 per year. They, and the elected officials who supervise them, have spent nearly $100,000 of our tax dollars on feasibility studies and financial consulting, not to mention staff time for planning and steering committees.

Before you all cross the Rubicon, you had better make sure that this thing is going to save money and increase public safety. I don’t mean estimates and guesses.

Please prepare a projected five-year budget that specifically shows cost savings so we know with certainty that we will be saving tax dollars when we go to vote.

As citizens, we have seen our jobs eliminated and life savings dwindle. We do not need nor do we want wasteful government and empire building.

Please make it a priority to unconfuse the finances involved in the proposed consolidation.

BILL MINKS

Seabeck

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