Opinion

Previous letter had several inaccuracies

Thank you for publishing my letter in last week's Record. While reading my letter, I noticed the letter from Bill Weber. There are several inaccuracies in Mr. Weber's letter that I would like to address.

1. Mr. Parsons would not be a direct supervisor of his wife's work. The secretary of a fire district is governed by state statute and her work is audited by the state auditor's office every three years. She does, from time to time, perform duties directed by the board of commissioners as a whole, no one commissioner has authority over her. Mr. Weber knows this.

2. As for firefighters serving as commissioners, several have, there have been no conflicts. Currently, Commissioner Ron Pedee is employed by the Bellevue Fire Department. This does not present a conflict, his experience is an asset to the district. Mr. Weber himself likes to point out his own long career in fire service.

3. Mr. Weber also mentioned a conflict for Mr. Parsons regarding negotiating salary, determining discipline, staffing, hiring, benefit negotiations and grievances for firefighters. District 38 is not now, nor has it ever been, involved in these issues. In its over 60-year history, District 38 has always contracted out fire and emergency services. First with the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie, then Fire District 10. Now the district is a partner in Eastside Fire and Rescue. The paid staff of EFR performs these duties under the guidance of the EFR Board of Directors, on which District 38 has representation. Mr. Weber knows this.

4. None of these things would be a conflict for Mr. Parsons, nor would it constitute a burden on the other two commissioners.

5. The issue of fire service experience vs. financial background is also an inaccuracy. Fire service background is an asset, financial expertise is nice, but not essential. The county determines the amount the district collects in property taxes. The secretary prepares the resolutions required by law to collect that amount, presents them to the board for its approval and signatures and then files them with the proper county agencies, who have final approval power. No great financial background on the part of the Board of Commissioners would alter these things one bit. Ninety percent of the money collected for Fire District 38 goes to EFR for fire and aid protection services. That budget is prepared by the EFR staff for board approval. The remaining 10 percent tax money is retained by District 38 for its administrative budget. The secretary prepares that budget for approval by the board. This whole process is outlined by state statute. From time to time, the secretary may find it necessary to consult the district's attorney, who specializes in fire district law, to make sure all requirements are being met, as the legislature, at times, makes changes in the law.

6. Mr. Weber abuses his position as a commissioner of District 38 by using his title to express a personal opinion on this election. He also knows this. Never before in the 24 years I served as secretary for District 38 has a sitting commissioner endorsed a candidate for a position on the board. That is a conflict of interest in my opinion.

The recent attacks on our nation have brought us to a new level of appreciation for our firefighters and police officers who, on a daily basis, put their own safety on the line for us. Let's not use this election to cast aspersions on their value. I hereby affirm my support for Steve Parsons for commissioner of Fire District 38.


Marle Jo Hill

North Bend

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