Lakewood is compensated up to $24,875 for its smoke detectors, aka the Lakewood Police Department Community Service Officers (CSO) and one Code Enforcement Officer.
According to a Public Disclosure Requested (PDR) document – the September 27, 2012 contractual agreement between the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) and the City of Lakewood – the City is reimbursed nearly $25,000 for the five members of Lakewood’s Burn Ban Patrol to observe, photograph, document and report those caught violating the air with smoke from chimneys, outdoor fires and even BBQ’s during burn bans.
As there were five burn bans called in this last winter season, $25,000 divided among five members of the Burn Ban Patrol equals $5,000 each – less $2 per hour administrative costs – or $1,000 per burn ban, 15 days in duration total.
The 2011/12 winter season of burn bans totaled 19 days, 12 inspectors, four counties, and 145 citations out of 182 observations in just the first burn ban (11/25-11/28), an 80-percent success rate. The second burn ban, 12/30/12 to 1/3/13 netted 585 smoke observations which remained to be processed for violations when the update was posted January 14, 2013 but if 80-percent held true, 468 would be violations.
How many of the 613 total violations were settled amicably without fines paid; the number who accepted and paid the $500 citation; and the likely few who protested the $1,000 civil penalty in court are all unknown but a generously liberal estimate suggests a ballpark figure perhaps approaching $300,000 collected by the PSCAA.
According to the computations above, using Lakewood’s five Burn Ban Patrol members who basically divide a $25,000 pot, if the 12 inspectors over four counties in the 2011/12 season are similarly compensated, $60,000 amounts to the PSCAA’s expenses producing a net of $240,000.
In just one winter season.
Of course if the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency was indeed about clean air in Puget Sound, at least in the area of Enhanced Enforcement, a 48-hour turn-around by virtue of a courtesy phone call to identified violators to stop what they were doing – many of them likely doing so inadvertently – would, estimating conservatively, actually end the matter right then and there.
But then such a common sense approach to immediately addressing pollutants in the air to be never seen again would also likely mean a significant amount of money not to be seen again either by neither the PSCAA or its enforcers.