Friday, April 15, 2011

Not paying our way

At Monday's council meeting I was reminded how big a debt I'm leaving behind for my kids to pay, and every voting-age adult should be ashamed.

Bluntly, if the ladder truck approved for purchase Monday night is so important to Ferndale then we ought to have paid its entire cost ourselves and not depended on a FEMA grant.

The truck's cost was $964,512.  Here's how those costs break down:

FEMA Grant$675,000
  Federal Taxes$405,000
  Federal Debt$270,000
City of Ferndale$289,512
  Matching funds$75,000
  City Funds$214,512
Total Cost$964,512
Some budget crisis, eh?  With one vote city council spent nearly a whole millage point of property tax revenue.

Ferndale Fire Chief Pat Sullivan noted the department's been without an operable ladder truck for quite a while.

So at a time when federal, state, county, and city budgets are bending under the weight of the economy, the United States of America, all its taxpayers and the world's biggest lenders chipped in nearly $675,000 dollars for a fire truck to serve a city of 19,900 where only 5% of 2009's 2277 runs were fire emergencies.

It's important to have the right equipment for the job, and that truck may be the right equipment.  But if it was that important to the council and residents of Ferndale, perhaps Ferndale residents should have paid for it themselves.

The question that needs to be answered is if we had to pay for it ourselves would we have bought it?

Certainly, if we had to pay for it ourselves there would have been more discussion and its necessity would have been more thoroughly analyzed.  We may still have purchased it, but we would have done so without depending on taxpayers from around the country and borrowing money the country's taxpayers will still be paying long after the truck is no longer in service.

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