[EDITOR'S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at email@example.com.]
by Earl Gipson
Come one come all. SeaTac is having a fire sale.
Yes, if you heard rumors that the SeaTac Fire Department will be SeaTac’s in name only you are correct. In a not so stunning 4 to 3 vote in Tuesday’s Council Meeting the Council majority voted to contract out our fire service to the Kent RFA (Regional Fire Authority). Why is this not so stunning you ask? The Council members who voted for it were all endorsed by the SeaTac’s Fire Fighters union in their election campaigns (Un-elected Mayor Anderson, Council members Ladenburg, Bush, and Gregerson) and there are some nice goodies in there for the Fire Fighters.
Goodies you say? Like what? Well if you remember I had a problem with a single SeaTac employee getting a 17K annual raise? This contract gives our 3 Fire Battalion Chiefs each a 17K annual raise as they become employees of the Kent RFA. But wait there’s more. EVERY Fire Fighter (shortly to be Kent RFA employees) gets a raise of not less than 5K per year and we get to pay for it all via the shiny new contract. If you don’t believe me the salary differences are posted at: www.iaff2919.org/Consolidation_Fact_Sheets/Rojecki%20Comparison%20030513.pdf (Don’t worry if this is removed, I have a copy and will post it if necessary)
The Kent RFA also gets to lease our Fire Stations for $1.00 a year, even our semi brand new one #46 (you remember the 4.5 million one that cost 7.5 million when all was said and done?). Throw in some Kent RFA uniforms and viola. We have SeaTac Fire Department in name only otherwise it’s Kent to the rescue (literally). If they are argue they are still SeaTac Fire Fighters just ask them who will be writing their paychecks and if they answer to anyone at SeaTac City Hall anymore. Further ask them who owns our fire equipment and negotiates their contract.
The joke is truly on us. There was no Public Hearing on this (I personally requested one as did Council Member Fernald. Public, bah. What do they know?). We up our annual costs 480K annually and that’s just for starters. Allegedly there will be savings starting in 2024. Knowing government projections this should have you rolling in the aisles. Since the Fire Department is ~ 28 percent of SeaTac employees you might think our City Administration costs would drop that much. Are you splitting your sides yet?
Council Members Fernald (VERY specifically) and Forschler continually pressed for a Public Hearing and public information and un-elected Mayor made every effort to cut them off (just watch the video). This was probably a foregone conclusion but thank you to those Council Members for sticking up for SeaTac Citizens. Also to Council Member Terry Anderson for articulating the impact on our most vulnerable Citizens.
Next time in the Cactus we will deal with garbage. No I’m not talking about some people but our actual garbage service that is about to be changed.