Taxpayers get screwed again

January 16th, 2009 by Ken

The battle between the City of Lacey and Fire District 3 over fire services looks like it will end up in court – – and the taxpayers will have to pick up the bill for the entire mess.

No one is saying so publicly, but one elected official has told me that the “sheets have been split” while another said “we’re headed for divorce.”

For those who haven’t read a newspaper lately, the city and the fire district are in disagreement over the closing of Fire Station 35 (Meridian Campus/Willamette Drive.)   The fire district said it had to close the station to cut costs, while the city maintains the fire district had a contractual obligation to keep the station open.   The City of Lacey even offered to pick up overtime pay and pay the matching share of a grant which would have funded six new firefighters.

The fire district acknowledges receipt of the city’s letter spelling out the conflict and said it would have to meet with legal counsel before responding.

If this disagreement goes to court, the taxpayers will be forced to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars this lawsuit might entail.

The service agreement between the city and the fire district spells out just who pays in the event of legal action.  The agreement reads in part “the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover all of its expenses including attorney fees, court costs and arbitration expenses in addition to any damages the judment allowed.”

In other words, either the taxpayers of the City of Lacey or the taxpayers of Fire District 3 will be on the hot seat to pay the legal bills between two government entitites.

That’s not acceptable.

The two sides must find some way to resolve the conflict that doesn’t require going to court and making taxpayers the scape goats in this internal battle.

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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