Monday, April 19, 2010

The Safety Dilemna

What do you get when you cut public safety to the bone so as to appear to be a fiscal hero? You get either high overtime, significantly compromised public safety or both.

Policemen and fire fighters comprise a large percentage of most municipal budgets. Public safety is labor intensive. There is no denying this fact. And equipment, even though well cared for, is costly. But no one is willing to wait while their house is burglarized or their love ones are trapped in a burning building. And why should they wait. This is why we pay taxes. This is why we live in a community with professional services. If these services were not important to us, we would live in areas without municipal services.

Enter local politicians. They demagogue the issue of taxes and cast our public servants as the enemy. Meanwhile, it is the very services these employees provide that keep us safe.

When the ranks of our protectors are cut without consideration for safety, both the residents and our protectors are put at risk. One choice of the opportunistic politician is to rely on paying the remaining employees overtime to work beyond their regular schedule. The most cynical of politician orders the ranks to "run with what you got" meaning if there are too few policeman to cover the village, we go with what we have and hold our breath that nothing big happens. If only 4 fire fighters are able to work on a given day, we run with the four and hope that there isn't a big fire or multiple fires. The cowardly and self promoting politician knows this places everyone at risk, but that is the risk he is willing to take...with your life and your property.

In the end, the combination of overtime and under staffing creates a no win for the taxpayer. They get reduced service for more money. All the while, the politician, who created the problem, clucks his tongue as though he had no part in it.

Fire starter believes that taxpayers are on to your game. We will have a chance to right our mistake in November. We hope you can hear our voices. In the meantime, we pray that no one pays for your arrogance with their lives.

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