As most of you already know, the DuPont April 28th Fire Levy Proposition 1 is failing. On May 1st the totals reflected 664 (41.47%) voted approve and 937 (58.53%) reject with one ballot returned with no choice. The official certification of the election will be made May 13th.
So, where do we go from here? Good question.
On Thursday of this week I received an e-mail from the mayor in which she wrote the following.
“What this shows us is democracy working at its best. After an exhaustive process dating back to 2002, the citizens have spoken. We will honor that voice. During the next few weeks, I will rollout options with my recommendation to the Council on how to move forward. The Council will then vote on how they want the policy to be and I will implement it. My judicial responsibility is to keep this community safe with services that are reliable and sustainable. I take my responsibilities very seriously.” Tamara L. Jenkins, DuPont Mayor
Our present fire services are provided by our own city fire employees augmented by Lakewood fire employees via a contract which expires at the end of 2009. In my opinion the most relevant option at this time is for the City Administration and Council to reaffirm and comply with the DuPont Municipal Fire Code which established a “combination” fire department of career and volunteer employees. Based upon a community survey I conducted in March of this year, 61.8% of those who responded agreed that the fire delivery model as explained in the code is a viable option for DuPont – not all career or all volunteer, but a combination. This recommendation is not intended to eliminate further discussions of fire delivery models (see In Conclusion, Page 2).
It should be noted that during the last ten years we have had four different fire chiefs, numerous mayors and council members as well as many other personnel changes within all departments. Individuals may come and go, but maintaining adherence to policy is paramount until a formalized amendment has been officially adopted. Stability and Consistency of Policy are important factors in providing city services along with reliability and sustainability. .
Here are some additional issues for consideration before a final decision is recommended or decided. The following results are based upon a “non-scientific” survey (questionnaire) sent directly to 326 e-mail addresses with a total of 165 responses.
- 59.4% agreed volunteers should be an integral part of our fire staff.
- 54.5% disagreed to a contract that restricts fire services to only career personnel.
- 73.9% agree that DuPont Administration should explore a cooperative partnership with a neighboring city using a combined system.
- 61.2% agreed that multiple cost-saving and/or financial options should be utilized to support an expanded fire service.
No clear majority vote supported the following statements:
- That our fire department should provide 24/7 ambulance transport service.
- That City Council and City Administration should continue towards annexation into the Lakewood Fire District.
- That the additional levy of $1.00/$1000 was satisfactory
- That a second fire levy request should be submitted this year.
- That additional money required to pay for increased costs in subsequent years should be taken directly out of the general fund account.
Community Relations Issues:
- 77.6% agreed citizens should be directly involved in discussing, formalizing and recommending policy choices.
As the mayor has said “… the citizens have spoken.”
An alternative course of action? With the assistance of an unbiased facilitator, a collaborating partnership of community voices and city leadership could identify and discuss specific criteria for the structure and operation of DuPont Fire Department. Alternatives could be deliberated within a community setting involving all who wish to participate. Community citizens could be encourages to:
- participate through e-mail communication
- share information and feedback
- utilize informal communication styles
- participate in opportunities for decision making
- acknowledge and consider all contributions fairly and honestly
- seek alternative solutions, be creative and have flexibility of thinking
- be willing to compromise in order to achieve a community consensus.
So, what do you think should be the city’s response to the levy failure? Please let all your city elected and appointed leaders know you thoughts. Consult the city’s web site for communications channels. www.ci.dupont.wa.us Feel free to respond directly with me.
Roger Westman, 253-964-3282