hydrangea blossoming

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Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Here's What You Got

Meursing appeared at the Taxpayers Association meeting last night but barely uttered a word leaving virtually all responses to Fire Chief Carleton who, at one point when being questioned about a technology choice, defended his decision with "I'm the expert."  And George Bush was 'the decider,' and we all know how that worked out...

What is the mission of the fire district given its very generous new budget (half million a year)?  That was the central question of the evening.  Carleton's reply was this: "You give us money, we give you service."  He added that he is not the kind of guy who wants to have a lot of money in the bank.  He will spend it to keep us safe.  How will we know whether we are safer?  Well, we must be safer because he is and will be buying stuff that will make us safer.  That's what he is about.

The Fire District is currently running about a $400,000 surplus, with an additional $100,000 expected to be added to that pot in 2013.  The question was posed as to whether any amount of money would be enough to keep us safe and the implicit answer was no.

I'm usually pro-taxes.  Taxes are the price we pay for civilization, in my view.  Most of us have enough that we can afford to make sure that there is a reasonable social safety net.  But this kind of stuff will turn even me into a 'government gone amok' advocate, I'm afraid.

There was a lot of talk about how important it is to have emergency medical services available because 'they save lives.'  (About 70% of the Fire District's calls involve medical emergencies.)  There was no information offered as to how many lives had been saved in Point Roberts in the past year because of EMS services.  Or any data about how successful CPR generally is.  (It is not very successful, actually, despite all the publicity.  Look at the data.) There was no data provided at all.  They're the experts and they save lives.  So be grateful.

Mark Robbins, the head of the Taxpayers Association, concluded that the tax levy was appropriate because it brought P.R. up from lowest level to the middle level.  No information was offered as to why we should be in the middle.  Are we in the middle relative to population? To the number of housing units? To the size of the area being served? I doubt it.  But, perhaps the rule here is that everyone ought to be in the middle regardless.  Sort of like in Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average.  Now that I think of it, why shouldn't we be Number 1 in expenditures for our Fire District.  Don't we value our lives and properties enough to spend more than everyone else?

It was not an evening to inspire anyone who likes to believe that you can trust the people to govern themselves wisely.

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