Northwest NEWS

January 31, 2000

Editorial

Why the outrageous spending?

   I'm writing this letter to the taxpayers in the Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District. I just want you to know that I did not vote for the 20% increase in your bill. The vote to raise taxes was 4 to 1, with me being the lone vote against.

   I voted against higher taxes because I see how our district wastes more money than some fire departments spend. There are lots of little examples, like satellite TV and $40 bicycle pedals for our bicycle team. Then there's bigger items like having 14 phone lines at our headquarters when there are only three firefighters and six administrators working, or spending $20,000 to put exercise treadmills at each station. Why the outrageous spending? Because it's not their money and they can do it.

   As a commissioner, I try to spend taxpayers' money as frugally as I would my own money. I am trying to convince the other members of the Board to spend less money, to budget and economize like every family has to do, but I am losing.

   One reason is the firefighters' union. The union makes sure to have people at every meeting. They thanked us for raising the budget and thanked us for raising union pay levels. If spending is not brought under control, though, we will outrun our taxing authority and have to ask voters for a major increase or suffer lower quality fire protection. That's irresponsible.

   Now is the time to control spending and prevent a future tax crisis. We have an opportunity right now to lower our administrative costs. One of our deputy chiefs has moved to another fire department. We don't need this position. We could eliminate it and save the taxpayers over $100,000 a year forever. No person would lose his or her job and we would streamline our top-heavy organization. It just takes a little reorganization.

   It's a good thing voters passed I-695. That's the only way taxpayers will get any tax relief.

David Callon, Fire Commissioner, Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District