SKF&R does double duty (dipping??) by seeking Excess Levy and applying for FEMA SAFER Grant 2012

 

Tell the voter this, tell the feds that

Great news for Tacoma Fire Department: two-year $7.7 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant meant to help local communities keep front-line responders on the job.

So time is ripe for FEMA to start handing out millions to local fire departments. Did South King Fire & Rescue get in line for a grant?

Absolutely YES! If this is such great news, why not share it? Why keep it secret, from both funding parties? Let’s look at this from the public point of view.

 

One district – Two requests for funds

In January of this year the fire district voted to put the excess levy on the April 2012 special ballot. Included was request from taxpayers for almost $2 million to hire 9 firefighters and put an aid unit back on the street. A few weeks later all was finalized and sent to King County Elections.

At the same time the district was preparing to send an application for grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for, ironically, $1.8 million asking to hire 9 firefighters.

 

The FEMA SAFER Grant Application

FEMA has a program called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER). Emergency districts around the country apply for federal money to bolster their budgets. All of these require some commitment from the applying agency in order to receive the money.

After citing the demographics and financial standing of the district, plus the need for more firefighters, the section justifying asking for federal money is in Element number three.

Element #3 requires the district to state its inability to address the needs without federal assistance and include all “other actions the applicant has taken to meet their staffing needs”.

A careful reading does not reveal disclosure of putting the excess levy on the ballot. Not one word, even though the commissioners approved it weeks earlier.

I for one would quite easily consider putting an Excess Levy forward to be an “action(s) the applicant has taken to meet their staffing needs.” Whether the action was successful or not is of no issue, it is an action that requires disclosure. And the district deliberately avoided disclosure when they filed the legal document.

 

Deliberate Omission in the Excess Levy proposal

Strangely and similarly, the tax payers were also not informed of the FEMA application.

Nowhere in the language of the ballot measure does the district reveal that they are simultaneously seeking federal relief for the exact same 9 firefighters they want new taxes from the public to hire.

 

Both deep pockets are oblivious of the other

So neither the federal government not the taxpayers were privy to the duplicate actions of the district to secure millions in funding, although both actions were simultaneously advanced to their prospective audience.

The original Excess Levy was approved for ballot in January, the SAFER grant application filed in February and the latest Excess Levy ballot approved for vote in April.

So all of this flurry of activity was going on in plain view of the administration and the commissioners, but not one word of double dipping was offered to the press or the public.

 

Apparently the district was afraid. Very afraid.

Should one audience become aware of the other plea for funds, then it may not appreciate the glaring and deliberate omission.

Were one to make FEMA aware that prior to the application SKF&R was spending precious dollars foisting a ballot measure, would FEMA remain compelled to grant $1.8 million?

And if the taxpayers were to suddenly discover that the district was asking for tax increases at the same time secretively applying for duplicitous grants, would we feel used and deceived?

 

Clearly, the district does not trust the public.

Serious consideration needs to be applied here because if the district is not able to achieve BOTH funding measures, then they could be in default of the FEMA grant provisions, which require that any firefighter hired under the grant retain their job for two years AFTER the grant money terminates.

 

If the FEMA SAFER grant were approved and the levy failed then the district would face two unthinkable options. Either come back to the taxpayers repeatedly until the tax increase (Never disclosing the true reason funding was needed) was achieved so they could meet FEMA requirements, or deny the grant funding obligations for much needed staffing and forgo 9 firefighters.

 

Keeping secrets is not a good thing when the public interest is involved.

 

And this contributes to a dangerous precedence of trust.

 

How many times has the district used selective ‘omissions’ to pass tax measures or get funding?

 

So, the question is:

 

Why did the district deliberately deceive both the public and the federal government?

And why should we trust them now that the truth is about to come out in the open?

And how will we know they are telling the truth?

 

Has the district matured enough to warrant your trust in adding more tax burden to your budget? Or are they still playing games with our lives?

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Update

 

 

Unfortunately, when a comment is posted to my blog at the Federal Way Mirror, Sound Publishing did not see fit to let the blogger know.

So, I do not know about it unless I visit the site like any other reader. This evening was the first time I checked back. Maybe I should go back more frequently to see if anyone left a message.

 

Ms. Conners, from South King Fire & Rescue, addressed my concerns when she left a comment on July 15th.

 

Ms. Conners, thank you for taking the time to share this information:

 

Mr. Galland,

Your Blogs of July 5th 2012 “SKF&R – Raising taxes and getting federal money/with strings” and “Secrets, omissions and just plain forked tongue” cite the following:

“Element #3 requires the district to state its inability to address the needs without federal assistance and include all “other actions the applicant has taken to meet their staffing needs. A careful reading does not reveal disclosure of putting the excess levy on the ballot. Not one word, even though the commissioners approved it weeks earlier. Whether the action was successful or not is of no issue, it is an action that requires disclosure. And the district deliberately avoided disclosure when they filed the legal document.

Per the SAFER Grant Guidelines published January 2012 “FOR FISCAL YEAR 2011” by the US Department of Homeland Security -(Application Start Date: 01/30/2012 Application Submission Date: 02/24/2012). All documentation, statistics and actions noted in the application package must pertain to what the department accomplished in 2010 and 2011.

Also cited in your Blog:
“Serious consideration needs to be applied here because if the district is not able to achieve BOTH funding measures, then they could be in default of the FEMA grant provisions, which require that any firefighter hired under the grant retain their job for two years AFTER the grant money terminates. Why did the district deliberately deceive both the public and the federal government? And why should we trust them now that the truth is about to come out in the open?”

Those same SAFER Grant guidelines published January 2012, by the US Department of Homeland Security specifies the Retention Commitment: Grantees that are hiring firefighters DO NOT have to commit to retaining the SAFER-funded firefighters. Period of performance: For Hiring of Firefighters, the period of performance has been reduced to 2 years.

The SAFER Grant Guidelines “For Fiscal Year 2012” were published by Homeland Security in June 2012 – (Application Start Date: 7/16/12 Application Submission Date: 8/10/12).

Respectfully Submitted

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