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King County Fire District 28 needs to regain public confidence | Letters

January 6, 2014 · 6:42 PM
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Let me begin by saying that I have the utmost respect and gratitude for the firemen of King County Fire District 28. The issue is with how our tax money has been handled.

The primary concern is with the fire department administration and has nothing to do with the firemen of the district. In the past we have had unwise choices made by the fire commissioner that has effectively ruined the reputation of the fire department. I think that individual should be accountable for his actions. The community sees a fire commissioner making a monetary gain at the expense of the taxpayer. The fire district is now suffering from overspending and a lack of oversight for budget concerns from those decisions. The reputation of KCFD 28 was compromised when they purchased from that commissioner and now he cannot be relied on to rule with impartiality on fire department matters.

The fire levy did not pass because of the actions of that fire commissioner and no transparency in how the taxpayer’s money was being handled within the department. A trailer purchase from the commissioner and the purchase of land for a “future” fire station were major concerns for the taxpayer and the taxpayers did not feel they were truly being represented in those decisions. The “quiet” super majority of taxpayers in this district responded by voting down the fire levy.

KCFD 28 does need a new tax levy to be passed. It’s crucial to proactively communicate to voters exactly why the money is needed. The key to rousing voters from “taxpayer fatigue” is to communicate with them – and not just when there’s a money issue on the ballot. That’s why it’s important to have an established relationship with voters.

To accomplish this, KCFD 28 needs to be seen in a new light; they need to show the people where their money is going and being honest in the budgeting process and showing the people how and why their money is being spent the way it is. In addition, the chief and all the commissioners must provide a very transparent and open communication with the citizens.

The biggest items to ensure the fire levy passing is that fire commissioner Hannity needs to resign and the piece of property for the “future” fire station needs to be sold. Nothing can be done about the trailer and even though the Washington State Auditor was “satisfied” with the answers received during the audit concerning that trailer, the taxpayers were not.

Keith Mathews

Enumclaw

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