Orcas Fire approves pared down budget

It’s going to be tight.

The Orcas Fire Board of Commissioners approved budget resolutions on Tuesday, Nov. 10 to submit to San Juan County. The final 2010 budget was approved with a 2.87 percent increase from 2009.

“It’s probably going to be the tightest budget we’ve ever operated under,” financial officer Rick Anda said.

Community member Pierrette Guimond was concerned with personnel expenditures.

“In 2005, we had seven employees and now we have 15 for 2010,” Guimond told the Islands’ Sounder.

Guimond acknowledged the BOC did not adopt a cost of living increase.

Based on public comment, chair Jim Coffin originally had concerns regarding staffing costs, but his questions were addressed to his satisfaction.

“Originally, I was concerned about exactly what we had done with our staffing,” Coffin said.

Coffin explained job descriptions had been spilt and reconfigured with the addition of a fire medic.

“With the number of folks actually doing the work, it is a minor expansion,” Coffin said.

Guimond was disappointed there wasn’t more specific discussion of budget items in the meeting.

“I think the commissioners need to look at the changes in the budget, especially the increases,” Guimond said. “I think it is the responsibility of the Commission to discuss with the public and not do it behind closed doors.”

Commissioner Barbara Bedell told the Islands’ Sounder that each commissioner worked on the budget independently and that going over it line by line in a meeting would not have been workable.

“We all worked really hard on it,” Bedell said. “I think we did a good job on it. Rick Anda was able to bring it down considerably from the first draft.”

“It’s a good budget,” Coffin said. “The beginning is a wish list and it gets pared down as lean as we can get it.”