Smells Like Teen Spirit…

From the “tit-for-tat” department

Monty Snow at Keller City Limits has written about some interesting comments made by a council member and the mayor concerning the new fire station. 

In particular, consider the mayor’s comments (The Keller Citizen, Friday, October 6, 2006, Volume 27, No. 10, Page 7A—Not Available Online):

Mayor Julie Tandy agreed that more data should be presented on the need for the station.  “Citizens want to know what they’re getting for their money,” she said.  “It’s a longterm commitment.  At the end of the day, the building is a small part of it.”

She wondered if the project should be placed in the hands of the voters.  “As the community has evolved, they have a great interest in the buy-in,” she said.  “That’s another reason to get numbers.”

Smells a little like library payback to me.  Many of us who opposed the library thought it was a case of misplaced priorities and that items like the new fire station and frozen fire and police positions were more important at the time.  And I certainly still think that’s the case.  But where I find this particular cry of “send it to the voters” disingenuous is that it concerns a core city government function, rather than a peripheral item like the library.  Honestly, I find it odious that the mayor would attempt to hold an important public safety component hostage in an attempt to make a political point. 

But if it takes a vote to make her happy, then so be it.  Let’s get it going.  Put it on the ballot.  I don’t object to a vote.  In fact, I know that I’ve said that government in general shouldn’t be able to create large debts or obligations without public approval, so I’m willing to stand behind that.

Oh?  And even if this fire station causes a tax increase, I’m STILL likely to vote for it because, unlike art and libraries, it’s a CORE CITY FUNCTION. 

On a more serious note, though, I can’t help but think that the folks at Keller Fire-Rescue have done too good a job looking out for the citizens of Keller, to the point that certain factions find it convenient to forget their needs in doing that job.  Keller has negotiated mutual-aid compacts with surrounding cities so that response times have been maintained by calling on those cities when all Keller units are already working. 

Most people don’t think about Fire-Rescue’s resources because they just always seem to be there.  But consider that Keller, a city of approximately 36,328 residents, has only two fire stations.  There are two medic units (one at each station).  For fire apparatus, the city has a 100-ft ladder truck (T583, housed at station 3), a quint (at station 2), an engine (E582 at station 2), and one or two brush trucks (or so I recall, I’m working off of memory here).  All it takes is two major accidents, or a large fire to completely use up all of our resources, at which point we rely on Colleyville,  Southlake, or one of the other surrounding cities.  The same holds true for those cities—if they have a major incident Keller will respond, which means someone else (yet another city) has to backfill Keller if there’s an incident here.

I often listen to the Keller talkgroups on the Northeast Tarrant Public Service system on my scanner.  It’s interesting to hear the patterns that arise.  All it takes are the traditional Friday afternoon wrecks to tie up our Fire-Rescue folks (i.e. one major at 1709/Keller-Smithfield and another on 377 somewhere).  It’s interesting that they seem to come in around 4:00pm on Friday afternoon, usually within a few minutes of each other (although fortunately it hasn’t done so today… yet).

We’ve just been extraordinarily lucky that response times have been maintained so far.  If we reach the projected population of 40,127 by 2010 (one year after the new station is projected to be in service), we’ll just barely be keeping up with demand.

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