For years now, I have spoken out about the spending issues the City has. Each time I said make cuts first before “raising revenue”…… except……support and even expand the Fire Department and Ambulance Services to keep us alive and address emergency planning and safety issues. I objected to cuts to the Fire Department that began just as we entered the last several fire seasons. Those cuts were the last ones that should ever have been made.
Now I read Terri Stewart’s resignation letter that describes a deconstruction of the CERT program and damage being done to what she identifies as a citizen ready community, which will be essential in a fire or earthquake. There may be personnel issues involving a number of people. This is a sign of stress and crisis within a Department that many prioritize as #1 in importance. While we need to reassess all Departments, the Fire Department functioning should be the most protected. Look outside your windows today!
Parks are not life and death functions and can be maintained simply for a few years. I would ensure we had sufficient line staff and look for efficiencies in top management. Parks can take care of basics as we figure out all the efficiencies.
There are other cuts that can be made that were blocked during the Budget process. I keep remembering hearing there were a number of good suggestions for cutting the budget that were squelched instead of being presented in the CBC public meetings. Those possibilities should be shared. I think the public would like to know what all those options were.
Other efficiencies were rejected by Councillors…like delays on COLAs and raises and giving departments targeted department wide budget cuts. That needs readdressing now. It has been stated in public that we will not get through this biennium without running up millions in debt.
We cannot wait. There are essentials that need protection. The Fire Department and all its functions affect all of our lives. I do not know any of the staff personally, but I am sad for the loss of someone who obviously has been so dedicated to doing her job in an excellent way. I am sad for my community.
Gwen Davies, Ashland