Opinion

Fire highlights growing issue

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The July 29 fire near Cedar Village at Exit 32 on I-90 made quite a few homeowners and voters in King County Fire District 38 aware of the importance of our fire services. Our fire commissioners, trying as diligently as they can, have yet to clarify to the public the need for more funding for fire services. Discussions of possibly looking to raise the levy lid are as cloudy as the air around Cedar Village was last week. This is the time to tell us.

Fire service is one of those things you don't really think about until you need help, which makes the task of the District 38 commissioners to educate the voting public that much more difficult.

While the fire is fresh in our minds, I urge the District 38 commissioners to tell us exactly the shortfall in funding they have. Tell us in detail where our tax money is going and then tell us how much North Bend is contributing to the $1.7-million cost for our fire stations. Show us the current funding level, the needed level and the deficit, then ask for that much on a bond. Voters are intelligent enough to understand numbers, but continuing to muddy the waters with comparisons between other fire districts doesn't do any good.

When you say it costs $1.7 million to fund a station, be prepared to show us the detailed costs and answer relevant questions. If you want to put together an equipment replenishment fund, tell us what you want to buy, when you want to buy it and how much it will cost. Break that down to cost per 1,000 residents and, if necessary, present that to the voters as well. The voting public has the right to understand details, and by them understanding the details you are likely to get broader support for additional funding.

On another note, the fire at Cedar Village was a great display of our fire services working with many Eastside agencies to protect property and life. It also was a great display of neighbor helping neighbor, grabbing hoses and putting out hot spots. Walking around taking photos allowed me to see how great neighbors can be as garden hoses and fire hoses worked side by side. The response from our fire departments was appreciated by those whose hearts dropped as smoked billowed from above their homes.

Now it's time for our fire commissioners to get down to business, really give us the details and tell us what you need.

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