Coastal Voices: Klamath fire district slipped up

By Paul Crandall September 20, 2011 08:18 pm

The Sept. 15 letter to the editor, “Shame on those who opposed fire assessment increase” by Al Muelhoffer, was, in my opinion, misguided and narrow-minded.

I too believe the Klamath Fire Protection District is woefully underfunded and personally voted my two parcels in support of the proposed increase.  I also believe that its handling process and communication efforts (before and since the proposed benefit assessment increase vote) has been both confusing and lacking in future budgetary specificity.

The Klamath Fire Protection District states it hasn’t asked for a benefit assessment increase for the past 21 years. Okay, but let’s be honest. Whose responsibility was that? Correct, the Klamath Fire Protection District was and is responsible.

No service organization would wait 21 years to seek additional funding while the costs for everything have steadily increased over the years. Additionally such a service organization, attempting to make up for past inactions with a 150 percent increase all at once, should not be shocked when there is push-back from those who will be financially impacted the most by a mere number of parcels or a limited fixed income.

I find it unconscionable for a current member of the Klamath Voluntary Fire Department and another past board member of the Fire Protection District to so easily and publicly identify a couple of the multiple property owners (specifically by name and through inference) and then to label them as “shameful.” I think this approach is shameful, self defeating, a violation of community confidence and reprehensible overall.

Property owners with multiple parcels have always been major stakeholders in providing a lion’s share of the funding that the Klamath Fire Protection District receives though the benefit assessment.  Property owners with multiple parcels also support this community through property tax revenues, employment opportunities, housing, services, local contributions and assessment fees.

The fact is, the Klamath Fire Protection District priced itself out of an increase, insulted those who currently do financially support it and irresponsibly divided a community through skewed facts and cheap innuendo.

Too much of this type of behavior is running rampant through Washington, D.C., and it doesn’t work there either.

I believe the Klamath Fire Protection District’s time would have been better served actually listening to Klamath residents and businesses and to those concerns they voiced long before the vote was taken.

The final tally for the proposed Klamath Fire Protection District’s benefit assessment increase was 171 “yes” votes and 278 “no” votes. The proposal didn’t fail because of the 108 votes cast by multiple parcel owners being inferred by some. It failed because of the 278 “no” votes cast by both multiple and single property parcel owners … as was their right to do so.  It is sour grapes to think otherwise.

I have no doubt that the Klamath Fire Protection District will attempt this again and it must.

I trust it will conduct itself personally and administratively more professional than it has this time around.

Paul Crandall is a Klamath property owner.