Even in some disagreement, I truly appreciate the willingness of these men and women to come speak. I would prefer to see more of it from time to time. Often commissioners are forced to assume what the constituency thinks. Some of us dig for it but unless people speak up, there is no way to ever know what their thoughts are.
I have made it clear several times that the commission has voted to gather all the true facts about fire options and that those facts will be presented in January for consideration and decision. I have also made it clear several times that I have issues with all proposed routes at the moment. I think most people find pros and cons in each. I have openly spoken about my concerns in order that we might work to alleviate them. Sometimes this level of candidness is met with friction and hostility. No one likes to hear that what they whole-heartedly want is flawed. But in the spirit of truth, I have continued to encourage everyone to consider the issues, resolve the problems, and come to a consensus on what might be the best course of action.
In spite of all the levels of discussion taking place, I feel it is important that everyone, including firemen, residents, commissioners, and the local pigeons know a fact that I am constantly keeping in mind in my decision making. It is the screen whereby any proposed plan will be run. It is the simple fact that the $1.8 million dollars that currently supplies fringe fire coverage is NOT paid by everyone. It is not part of the general fund. It is an excess fee that is paid only by the people who live in the fringe. The money belongs to THEM, not the county. This is important to remember. I often hear rural residents say we should "quit sending our money to the city" and my response is always the same "you are NOT sending your money to the city because you don't pay the fringe tax". So with that in mind, I am anxious for more discussion with the people most affected, most invested, and directly cutting the check…the fringe residents.
I liken the fringe fire coverage to an automobile. Let's say that you walked onto a car lot and purchased a Ford truck with your money. A few years later, you bring the truck back to the dealership for service and upgrade. When it comes time to pick up your vehicle, they drive out a Dodge truck instead. The salesman says "hey, we decided that this is a better truck for you". Both are good truck but would you take it? Of course not. Not without a long series of questions.
The truth is some people say "well we agreed to give you a truck, but not a specific truck". I strongly disagree. Our fringe coverage was like purchasing a specific truck for specific purpose. If that truck needs to change, we must answer the questions and sell it to those who pay for it.
So here are some questions that the commission is trying to answer.
"What's wrong with my other truck?"
"Why is this a better truck for me? Does it meet my needs?"
"Does this truck cost more than my other truck?"
"If other people are driving my truck too, are they helping make the payments?"
And so on.
I will continue to push for open discussion on this up until the time we decide in January. We hear from so many but now is the time for the commission to better educate on the options and for the fringe citizens to speak out. I invite any fringe citizen to one of our meetings. Let me know that you are there and that you want to speak and I will gladly provide the opportunity.
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