letter to board and CoW members
I sent this email to PRRD board and Committee of the Whole members, asking them not to approve the budget as it is proposed, but instead to approve a budget on the level of 2016, which would permit our fire department to continue to function and improve.
The Committee of the Whole meets at 4pm today, then again next Thursday afternoon, March 16. The board meets (to accept CoW recommendations, usually) on Thrusday, March 23 at 7pm. It must adopt its budgets before March 31.
Hello CoW and board members,
I request that you not accept and approve the budget for the Lasqueti Island Voluteer Fire Department as it is in your agenda package for today's Committee of the Whole meeting.
This proposed budget has been increased by almost one-third, $38,523, over the 2016 budgeted amount ($120,030), of which less than $100,000 was actually spent.
This has been done with absolutely no consultation or engagement with Lasqueti community members and taxpayers. Indeed, we have made it clear that we do not think we need, and we do not want, a new $1.2 million fire hall, yet this is still in the plan and is one of the driving forces for the huge budget increase recommended for 2017.
I do not know if the Emergency Services Manager has consulted with our Fire Chief. I know that there has been no consultation or engagement with the community, and no sign that the strongly expressed opinions and wishes of the community have been considered at all.
The planned huge increase in budget expenditure of money for O&M, from $86,997 in 2016 (of which only $64,612 was actually spent) to the currently proposed $125,748 is proposed without any consultation with the community.
The significant changes to the previously accepted February version of the budget, accepted by the Committee, are not justified or explained, and are not supported by the Lasqueti community. They call for spending more money, and putting much less into the reserves.
The course recommended by the Emergency Services Manager will mean large increases in the budget in future years. This course needs to be understood and supported by the community, before it is embarked on. It might be that there is not the tax base, or the community support, to fund and operate a fire department such as is planned. There needs to be community discussion, before more money is spent going down the road that has been set out. We all - Powell River Regional District and the Lasqueti community - need to discuss whether the solutions proposed are sensible and cost-effective. There is no point going down a road that has hurdles that we won't be able to clear in the future, unless we are agreed that we should do so.
Please do not accept the budget as proposed for 2017, in either of its versions. Please consider a budget equivalent to the 2016 budget, such that our fire department can continue to function, and to work towards improving. It is also critically important that you, the PRRD board of directors, listen to our community and make sure that you do not impose services, even improved services, on us that we do not support.
Thank you for considering this carefully, and especially for making big changes to how PRRD interacts with Lasqueti about its services. It isn't good enough, obviously, for the board to travel to Lasqueti twice last year, and "listen" to the community, but for the directors and its senior staff to give absolutely no indication that we have been heard, let alone had our views understood, considered or included in your decisions.