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The fire department is the real budgetary black hole.

There is much talk about how much money the North Bend pool is "losing." Well, for starters, everything the government does "loses" money. If government endeavors were money-making enterprises, they would be provided by for-profit businesses. The pool, though, is the recent talk-of-the-town. Your North Bend "leadership" (I know, try not to barf) has proposed closing the pool because it's "losing" too much money. Let's talk about another North Bend line item that loses far more money.

The North Bend Fire Department costs us about $1.8 million per year, and fights about one fire a month. You're paying about $37,000 per hour of actual firefighting work. Now, they do go to medical calls, as well. But guess, what? All they do is wait on scene until Bay Cities Ambulance shows up (who will then bill you thousands of dollars for a 5-minute ride to the hospital). They don't need to go to medical calls. That's why there is an ambulance company in town. The rest of the time they are sitting around, sleeping, or doing ridiculous, asinine, busywork (trust me, you don't have to wash the apparatus every 12 minutes), and planning their next pageant, err.. sorry, I mean parade.

Here's the solution. Have a maximum of 3 staff firefighters. There are volunteers and a neighboring city that can respond to fires. Cutting 6 firefighters would save over $600,000 per year. Enough to fund the pool and then some. The fires will still be extinguished, I promise. "But the firefighters have families, too!" Correct, and our public service agencies aren't jobs programs (though city management seems to think of it as such). Of course firefighters provide a valuable service, and if they were free, we would position one at every street corner, but they're not free. In fact, they are incredibly expensive, and we should quit setting our already dwindling dollars on fire.

Rorick Hines

North Bend


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