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West Sound fire merger should enable more taxpayer involvement
The recent story concerning the proposed merger and formation of West Sound Fire & Rescue left me with some concerns. I think that most citizens would agree that our fire departments do a great job as they are currently organized. Therefore, any changes, mergers or restructuring should have a singular goal of cost savings for the citizens before they are even considered.
In April, I requested information concerning the salary scales for this proposed organization. I was informed that the committee hadn’t gotten to that point yet! In fact, looking at the Web site www.wsfr.org, the only committee goal accomplished to date has been determining the name of the organization! Salaries, being the biggest expense of any government agency, especially fire departments, should have been the No. 1 priority. How can you forecast/plan a budget without this information?
Citizens in Washington state have made it clear that holding the line on property taxes is a top priority. Another concern is that the public meetings concerning this merger are being held at 4 p.m. Unfortunately, many citizens are still at work during this time and are not able to attend. How about some evening meetings so taxpayers, and not just staff, may attend and ask the hard questions?
The recent events in California underscore the need to make public safety a priority. Staff members, fire service leaders, public safety educators and fire inspectors need to concentrate their efforts on preventing fires and advancing public safety, not expanding empires.
Fire chiefs, please show us a salary schedule and specific budget line items wherein this merger will save taxpayers money and please, try and schedule some evening public meetings so that citizens may ask questions.