Proposed fire department budget questioned
June 17, 2008 · Updated 3:13 PM
Several Orcas islanders will be paying close attention when fire commissioners approve their 2003 budget next Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the new fire hall.
About 10 islanders told local fire commissioners Oct. 29 that they felt the proposed new budget is excessive, particularly in the areas of staffing and salaries. They spoke at a special work session of the commission.
Their concerns got the attention of at least one commissioner. Bob Phalan, who in his campaign last year promised to try to save the fire department some money, said he will do everything he can to try to get the budget reduced. It needs to be brought back to earth, he told The Sounder. The community has been very generous with the fire department. I dont want to abuse their generosity.
But Phalan is only one vote on the three-member commission. The other commissioners are Harvey Olsan and John Erly. The Sounder was unable to get their reactions to the citizens concerns prior to press time.
Fire chief Gary Bennett indicated that all three commissioners are pretty sensitive to the criticism. He also predicted that the commissioners would try to address the citizens concerns.
Fire commissioners held further discussions about the budget at a follow-up work session which took place Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 11 a.m., after The Sounder went to press.
The public was not allowed to speak at yesterdays work session, but they can comment about the budget during the public access portion of the Nov. 12 meeting, Bennett said.