[2/7/18] Chelan Fire Task Force Tells Commissioners The Public Has Absolutely No Appetite For Additional Taxes

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Tuesday night’s citizens task force presentation to Chelan County Fire District 7 Commissioners was clear and direct to most in the audience, but may have left the fire commissioners with more questions than answers.

The ten person citizens task force, assembled last fall, was asked to identify what level of fire service residents wanted now and in the future.

The task fore reported their findings to the Commissioners Tuesday night, which began with an introduction from their consultant that oversaw the entire process…

020718 CCFD 7 Taskforce 1

Not all ten task force members were able to attend Tuesday night’s presentation. Those in attendance include: Jimmy Martin, Steve Palmbush, Bob Sheehan, Arturo Zavala, Corron Polley, and Task force Chairperson, Nan Bolomey, who read their executive summary to commissioners…

020718 CCFD 7 Taskforce 2

What followed was a lively question and answer session between commissioners and task force members.

Commissioners asked task force members whether they had a recommendation as to whether or not they should have 6 or 12 full time paid career firefighters.

The task force said that wasn’t their decision- that was up to the commissioners.

Currently Chelan Fire & Rescue has 12 full time career firefighters. Six of which are funded by a Federal grant that will expire at the end of this year.

The district does not have the revenue to maintain those six without raising taxes – and the message was clear from all seven members of the task force who attended Tuesday night’s presentation: the general public has absolutely no appetite for additional fire district taxes.

They like the service, they want to maintain it, but they are not paying more money.

That message was clear from all of the task force attendees.

To which commissioners responded: it is not possible to maintain the current level of service without additional revenue.

Several recommendations from Tuesday nights’ presentation stands out:

The recommendation to further develop and integrate volunteer firefighters with career firefighters.

The task force also highly recommended further developing a regional approach to emergency response.

The bottom line: do all of the above with the current revenue.

Robert Merritt, the Emergency Service Consultant, heading the task force, said there will be a printed copy of the task force recommendation to the public sometime in the next week or two.

We will have more on this story in tomorrow morning’s news.