To the Editor:
A potential increase of 69 percent in the Keizer Fire District operating levy is shocking to say the least. I took some time to try to understand this need. I also visited with neighbors. In the end we all agreed a continued operating levy with a modest increase would have been acceptable. But no one is willing to pay a 69 percent increase.
I have the utmost respect for the men and women who protect my community. But I am concerned that a fire department with only one station will continue to struggle with financial security. Do you know that Keizer Fire eliminated its equipment replacement fund because it was depleted and no revenue was going into it? Where will the money come from when new equipment is needed? And what will that cost be?
Now is the time for our emergency service providers to consider the economies of scale that can be achieved by working together instead of operating three independent fire departments in the area. Marion County Fire District 1 operates eight stations. The City of Salem operates up to 11 stations. There are no economies of scale to be experienced when you operate only one of anything. There are operational efficiencies, cost reductions, and even cost avoidance to be experienced if the emergency service providers in my community would work together.
Working together has not been the theme the last few years. Money has been spent on failed elections and fire departments suing each other. It’s time to change. Now is the time for our leaders to work together and deliver emergency services in the most efficient manner possible.
It’s time to break down the barriers that district and city boundaries create. Work together to deliver quality services and share the benefits of economies of scale. Perhaps then, increases of 69 percent will not be needed.