November 29, 1999
The fire district budget is in no way rushed through, but is worked on extensively throughout the second half of the year by all members of the department. If the writer compared the 1999 budget with the 2000 budget on an apples-to-apples level, there wasn't a 20% increase. The increase came from budgeting more money for the reserve fund, which the board has verbally stated they would like to maintain half of the budget amount in reserve.
In addition, money for new vehicle replacement, which will total close to one and a half million in the next three to four years, and the hiring of three new firefighters are intended to improve service to downtown Woodinville. Currently, Station 31 (Headquarters) relies on Bothell Fire to cover 14% of the calls in their area downtown. These items represent higher-than-normal spending that the board had committed to doing in 1999, but failed to.
As I have said many times before, I strongly urge citizen involvement, but not for one meeting a year. I encourage the writer to come in again and speak with Chief Smith or his staff--they would be more than willing to explain the budget process.
Obviously, if the budget passed 4 to 1, it was felt by the majority of the board to be what's necessary to provide you, the citizens, the best possible service. Unlike electricians or plumbers, when you have a fire or medical emergency, there is only one number you can call and you expect the best-trained people to be able to respond to your need in the shortest possible time. This is why I support keeping our Fire District at the highest level possible.
Chuck Royal, Woodinville Fire & Life Safety Commissioner