Even a budget meeting can be entertaining.

The Accreditation of our district.

Does it matter?

Not so much according to Chief Church and validated by Commissioner Jim Fossos.

 

At the special meeting yesterday, at a point when the district expects a 15.5% increase in property tax revenue, the budget line for Accreditation was left ominously blank. With over $1.5 million in fresh cash infusion for 2015, and nearly a decade since last Accreditation was done, the district decided this is not a good time to bare all to an outside, presumably independent, inspection. For the cost of a mere $15,000.

 

Keep in mind, this was a special meeting at which the administration was presenting their proposed budget to the commissioners.

A time when the commissioner got to hear what the budget the administration had toiled over these past several weeks, looked like for the coming year, and their first opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. Of the administration.

 

When the question was asked by Commissioner Mark Freitas about the lack of budget for Accreditation, the chief answered it was not something we needed right now. It could simply that other expenses were of priority. Commissioner Freitas’ response re-addressed the issue with how important it was for the district to appear in their best light as the pending issue of asking for a $45 million bond were being bandied about.

 

I assume he felt leading up to asking for money,  maybe $45 million, it was paramount that the fire district do all it could to show the public how proficient and accountable it was.

 

But the chief wanted nothing to do with it. And apparently Commissioner Fossos felt compelled to not leave well enough alone as he proceeded to school Commissioner Freitas and provide the reason.

 

The rating is “not what it is built up to be”.

 

Really?

 

The Accreditation, held by a small percentage of public agencies in the state, of which even the great City of Seattle, according to Commissioner Fossos, can’t achieve, doesn’t matter.

 

Actually, in full context, what he actually said was that if it were done today, we would FAIL!

Citing the state of staffing, equipment, stations and everything in general, we would not fare well under scrutiny.

 

But we have money for other things.

 

Adequate firefighter staffing to meet the needs of the district had been cast aside in order to create higher paying positions, pay increases, hiring non-essential personnel and granting a Communications Affairs Officer, (affectionately, I am sure, called a CAO, pronounced COW) position for spinning the actions of the district in a favorable light.

(A position exclusively intended to blow enough smoke at us we don/t see the failures and instead just keep passing tax increases.)

 

Meanwhile, the budget is simply a prelude to another woe-is-me, people-will-die plea for raising your taxes that is scheduled for discussion at a future meeting.

 

Get ready. It is coming and it will not be pretty.

 

Are you ready to give these clowns another $45 million?

 

After they have wasted and misdirected the $3.5 million per year, you gave them last year?

 

Remember, they promised to use the Excess Levy money to hire 9 firefighters. But they decided to hire only 2. Redirecting over a million dollars every year into raises, overtime and additional perks.

Gives a new meaning to Excess, doesn’t it?
But I must thank the administration and Commissioner Fossos for their forward thinking. Had they decided to pursue Accreditation, the taxpayers would have wasted $15,000, (estimate provided by Chief Church) and, according to Commissioner Fossos, received a dismal rating.

 

Bonus, some of the savings will be spent in additional newsletters. You know, that full color flyer you get that seems carefully timed to arrive with your ballot filled with stories of how important your fire department is? The budget for Educational Programs/Website Programs was upped from $12k to $18k just so they can cover the upcoming election cycle. The chief explained the increase was so they can send three newsletters out next year instead of the traditional 2.

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