Proud to have served Lacey – but

July 5th, 2021 by Ken

Recently I was walking my dogs through one of the many fine parks in the City of Lacey.  I thought about how nice the park was, how many times it’s used every day, and why parks are important to a community.  I have been on the Lacey Parks, Recreational and Cultural Board (Parks Board) for six years.  My term is up and the position will soon be open for new blood.

I’m proud of our parks system, I’m proud of the parks staff which operated the parks and I’m excited and happy for the future of our parks particularly when I see the care that people have for the parks.  The City of Lacey has done a great job of providing a first-rate parks and recreational system for the community and our city council should be commended for supporting our parks, recreational and cultural needs.

However, while I was walking through the parks I noticed several signs promoting the Lacey Library and some of the projects they have selected for the coming year.  I know we have a city library board, but I’m not certain to what extent they can influence what kinds of service the library provides.   You see, the library is part of the Timberland Library System.  It operates most of the libraries in a five-county area.  All the city does is provide a building.  The Timberland Library System takes care of hiring and firing the employees.  it determines what books and digital project will be carried.  It controls the programs offered and it sets the hours of operation.  As far as I can tell, operation of the Lacey(Timberland) Library is not under the control of the City of Lacey.

That got me to thinking about other city services outside the control of the city.  Take the Virgil S. Clarkson Senior Center.  The city built the building, but all services are provided by a third party over which the city has no control

Fire services are provided by Lacey Fire District Three.  The city has no control over its services.   Medic One is also under control by a regional organization.  Garbage services are provided on a contract with a third party.  Even the costs of sewer services is only partly under the control of the city.

And from experience we can see that the City of Lacey has little or no control over the homeless population now finding a place within the confines of the city.

This is not a new problem.  Many cities and communities contract for services with regional boards and commissions.  In some ways, its a solution that saves money for the city.  But, it also takes away the power of the elected officials of the city to make decisions which impact the quality of life.

Having said all that, I am proud to live in the City of Lacey.  I have devoted years of effort in many facets to make this a community I can be proud of.  And, I am.  But, to make significant changes for the better, we need to make certain that our elected officials review all of the city’s contracts with all agencies and businesses to ascertain if there may not be a better solution which allows them to have some say.  Regional government is fine.  But it isn’t local and it isn’t under the control of your local elected officials.


Posted in Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News

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