Lawyer tells Fire Board it doesn't have to build two new stations
by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--The Woodinville Fire District doesn't have to use the $3.9 million approved by voters to build two new fire stations, as per the board's resolution in 1993, so long as the services intended are provided by other means.
"It was my understanding that population and development trends in the district, together with the cost of construction, made it more feasible and desirable to carry out the planned expansion in lieu of the additional station," said George Mack, bond counsel for the Board.
Mack added this course would be appropriate so long as "such expansion would not reduce the quality of protection within the parts of the district to be served by the proposed improvements."
While the board's Resolution 390 explicitly stated the bonds would be used for construction and equipping of two new fire stations, improving, upgrading, and/or expanding four fire stations and other board-approved capital expenditures, the ballot title voters saw referred to capital improvements to an unspecified number of fire stations.
This interpretation opens up the possibility for the Fire Board to allocate the bond money for expansion of a station, a direction they have discussed while citing changing demographics, development, and needs in the district.
The funds can be allocated for the remodel of station 35, as well as other remodels in the district, and the district is still in limbo regarding the downtown station, which would be one of the new stations to be built using the bond funds.
Any excess, unspent funds stemming from the sale of the bonds can be dealt with in three ways: The board can use it to reduce the amount of indebtedness on the total bond fund, thereby reducing the tax burden to the voters over time; they can reduce the levy amount, also reducing the tax burden in the district; or the board can seek further authorization from the voters for how the money will be used.
A 'new and improved CAC'
Commissioner Don Eddy brought the board up to speed on his work with the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), analyzing the structure and purpose of the organization.
"We're looking at the possibility of a better, improved, and updated version of the CAC, to see if there's a better system out there for talking with the citizens," Eddy told the board.
Eddy told the board the process has just begun, and real discussions could probably begin at their July 15 meeting.
Commissioner Ben May said he supported the CAC's role in promoting disaster planning in the community and assisting in seminars.
"We need to determine the specific function of that committee," said May, "whether they're a sounding board, a focus group, or really speaking for the public."
Ben May elected vice-chair
In another shift of structure, Commissioner David Callon moved to have Commissioner May serve as the vice-chair for the board, filling in for the odd occasion when Chair Don Leggett was not at a meeting.
Former Chair Sue Dickson seconded the motion, and it passed 5-0 without any further discussion.
Board adopts 'guiding principles'
In other business, the board voted to adopt "guiding principles" for the district, applying to those "elected, in uniform, and citizens" who contribute to the district.
The guidelines include:
Above all, the principles instruct the district to "be honest, do the right thing, do no harm, be kind, care, listen, be effective, commit to excellence, and make a difference!"
- Cultivating trust, pride, and commitment; encouraging and expecting open, candid, and effective communication. All members will treat each other with respect, dignity, and compassion.
- Each member will be held to the same standard of ethics and behavior, reflecting the values of honesty, integrity, respect, courage, candor, diversity, and balance. Do the right thing the right way and use common sense at all times.
- Leadership is a privilege; supervisors will lead and subordinates will follow in an effective, considerate, positive, and cooperative manner; with empowerment comes responsibility--with responsibility comes authority.
- Each member's behavior will enhance the image and reputation of the district.
- The district will provide the best possible service to each of its customers: internal (families and members) and external (individuals, institutions, organizations, and businesses). Members will treat each customer with dignity, respect, and compassion.
Commissioner Dickson said she had been proud of the way the district was running for the past four years: its proactive stance, working with citizens and their input, and the pride and ownership of the members of the department.
"But in the past six months, the mutual respect on this board has given way to disrespect ... and I'm not happy with what this board's doing," Dickson said, noting her perception of morale being at an all-time low. "We need to provide guidance and trust in what we're doing and show what direction we're going."