The community voted to increase the Orcas Fire board to five commissioners, and I was supportive of that process. The commissioners elected by the people represent the people and hopefully make good decisions with our tax dollars that support a great department and dedicated volunteers.
In December, the board voted for a new process relating to public comments at their meetings. A member of the public must sign up in order to make comments or ask questions, and a commissioner will respond through the district secretary if there is a question after the meeting. Documents are not available to the public as they have been before.
A public record request is necessary in order to get copies of all documents that are presented at a public meeting, and they have five business days to fill the request.
By law, a taxing district does not have to take public comments, but the council, school district, library district, cemetery district, park district and port have been open to listening to the public and providing documents at the meetings.
The fire department’s March 19 regular meeting was canceled without any explanation. The March 22 meeting lasted nine minutes and all regular business was deferred to the April 16 regular meeting. The March 22 meeting was attended by three commissioners, the chief and secretary. Two public comments were made and documents were signed at the end of the meeting without any motion to approve. The commissioners receive $112 for attending a meeting, so the March 22, nine-minute meeting cost the taxpayers $37 a minute, which is all part of our $2 million budget.