This is in response to former Pine-Strawberry board member Jessica Barnett’s Nov. 6 guest commentary. The standard of coverage by the fire department members is not an issue here rather than holding our elected officials of the Pine-Strawberry Fire Board fiscally responsible.
Time and time again there have been issues brought before the fire board whereby the chief has been given carte blanche, lacking proper investigation and research by certain board members.
Unless the bylaws have changed, it is my understanding the fire board supervises the fire chief not the contrary.
This small, two-station department with its comparatively low call volume cannot in any way justify three more chief positions.
Battalion chiefs are largely exempt employees and are typically found on the operational side of the fire service.
If the chief has suddenly found he cannot fulfill his duties as set forth within his board-approved job description, then maybe he should consider remaining in district as opposed to chasing overtime around the country on wildland fires, increasing his gross salary estimated to be over $100,000 annually.
An income that most chiefs are enjoying with BA’s and years of management experience with much larger departments (and tax bases that would support such a salary). After all, that is why the board agreed to his outrageously high base salary, isn’t it?
Perhaps, if the board does not care to waste their time researching the validity of this proposal, they should spend the money (which they obviously have no problem doing) and hire an unbiased third party to analyze these three new positions to determine the needs of the community rather than the wants of the chief.
The community cannot withstand an economic hit of this magnitude, especially at this time, regardless of how it may be presented to the board.
Make no mistake, we will pay and pay dearly for these new chief positions and subsequent promotions.
If assistance is needed administratively, then hire a business manager. In doing so, perhaps this will assist in maintaining proper records and accounting procedures for your future audit.
Please remember, the board will ultimately be held responsible should there be discrepancies. Our tax base cannot support this type of expenditure, now or in the future.
To the three board members that voted in the affirmative for these untimely and unwarranted positions and promotions, please rescind your affirmative votes for the benefit and welfare of our citizens and not for the personal gain of a few.
Mark L. Boys