By Roy Lusk, CKFR Fire Chief
It is with a mixture of humility and utmost pride that I write to you as the Fire Chief of Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue. It is a true honor to serve the Central Kitsap community as Fire Chief. I cannot say that becoming Chief was my goal when I joined Silverdale Fire Department back in 1969, but it has long been a dream of mine for many of my 41 years with the department. I am passionate about our mission of preventing injuries and protecting people, property and the environment and I offer our residents and community all of my energy, knowledge, skills and abilities to accomplish this task.
Currently, CKFR is focused on providing the highest level of fire and emergency services possible within our means. My philosophy is that pennies saved now equate to dollars saved later. This is the motto I am using to address the current budget challenges. Like many CK residents and businesses, CKFR is struggling to balance our budget while providing the level of services our residents deserve and have grown to expect. As the CKFR Citizen Advisory Committee suggested, we are taking a hard look at our organization, making changes where possible without cutting the level of services, prior to asking for additional taxpayer support. We have taken this suggestion to heart and are acting now to avoid a crisis later. Some of the items we are working on at this time are:
- Reducing staff positions through attrition, such as a recently vacated Staff Assistant position due to a retirement and an Assistant Chief position resulting from my advancement to Fire Chief;
- Assigning new work priorities and assignments to remaining personnel;
- Reducing fuel consumption in addressing the type and number of apparatus we send to specific types of emergencies;
- Evaluating the number and usage of staff vehicles within our fleet;
- Making cuts in the 2010 as well as the 2011 budget;
- Freezing salaries CKFR Management Team agreed to maintain 2009 level salaries through 2010 and we are currently asking other bargaining units within the department to do the same through the collective bargaining process;
- Eliminating all but the most essential travel and training;
- Optimizing local training opportunities and by bringing trainers to Kitsap County;
- Delaying or eliminating capital purchases and improvement projects;
- Taking a hard look at the types of programs and services we currently provide;
- Trimming expenditures related to medical supplies through joint purchasing and inventory efficiencies;
- Adjusting the CPR courses offered to the public to make them more cost effective;
- Taking advantage of available energy grants and undergoing energy audits of our facilities;
- Addressing the makeup and need for specialized response teams and programs such as the bike team, and ice and surface water rescue.
Even with these efforts in place, based on estimates from the Kitsap County Assessor, the forecast shows there simply is not enough revenue to maintain the current mode of operation and maintain our current service level. Here is what we know today:
- Reductions in Assessed Valuation (AV) are affecting levy rates. (EMS levy tax revenue in 2010 was reduced by approx. $264K due to 6.98% drop in AV for 2010.
- In 2011 there is a projected 5% reduction in revenues. CKFR anticipates a loss of $73,850 in regular property tax and $227,312 in EMS tax, plus not being able to receive any tax money from new construction because of having reached statutory limits on levy rates.
- In 2012 there is again a projected 5% reduction with an anticipated loss of $718,455 in regular property tax and $445,530 in EMS tax monies and again, no tax money from new construction due to hitting statutory limits on levy rates.
Thanks to our long standing community support, CKFR is able to provide a variety of prevention and emergency services to the residents of our District. Even in these tough economic times, we are committed to being YOUR full-service fire department. If you have constructive ideas on ways CKFR can continue to efficiently provide enhanced emergency services to the Central Kitsap community, I welcome hearing from you.
Please visit us at our annual Fire Prevention Week Open House and Chili Feed on October 15, 11:00 AM 1:00 PM, at Station 51 on Silverdale Way or call me any time at 360.447.3550.