These days it seems more fashionable to cast stones and criticize than to lay bricks and collaborate to help build a safer community. I have the privilege of being an elected King County Fire Protection District 37 commissioner and serve on the governing board of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.
In reviewing my Voters’ Pamphlet, I, like many of you, I have a few observations and comments.
For 2018, my total tax and fire benefit charge (FBC) for my home is $112.13 more than it was in 2011. I just don’t see the math that will result in an increase of 58 percent due to this proposition.
I just really cannot imagine the FBC being assessed on a residential driveway. The FBC is applied to structures, with specific limits and allowable exemptions.
State bid law does provide for purchase of certain larger items without a “traditional” bid process. Those allowed alternatives are specific and require compliance with the law in order to purchase an item, say a fire engine, in a compliant manner. These alternatives are allowed because they have been shown to actually save money for purchases. Coupled with careful specification and purchasing, the tax and FBC funds are stretched in their purchasing power – that’s a benefit in my book. Bid Waivers, when done correctly (RFA has reviewed by legal counsel) are not a violation of the law, but a part of following a specifically allowed alternative within the state bid law.
State Law – RCW 52.14.010 – provides for compensation for commissioners and RFA Governing Board members. In my experience I’ll spend about four or five hours associated with a monthly meeting, which includes review of material, preparation, travel, meeting and wrap up. For commissioner or governing board training events, or special activities, that $114 may be for an 8- to a 12-hour day.
In my 10 years as a commissioner, I’ve not collected compensation for any public event appearances, after-the-fire meetings, observing firefighter training activities or apparatus ride-a-longs (15 to 36 hours). Finally, I have consistently donated $50 per month to support the crisis intervention specialists or chaplains that respond to the most difficult calls – death or serious injury to a love one – in the response area.
If indeed the “RFA hasn’t charged FBC on entire neighborhoods,” please let me know. I’ll be happy to refer this along to properly evaluate. One way to reduce FBC is to apportion it out over properties that may not have been properly charged for it.
Don’t accept the baseless “bullet points” that are worded to send your imagination running wild and thinking that the RFA and its governing board are just out to take your money recklessly. The reality is that the elected officials, leadership, staff and volunteers of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority are about professionally and compassionately helping people, and carefully spending to do that. Please join me and vote yes for Prop. 1.
– Allan Barrie