Letters to the Editor

Auburn's potential park district

I want to state my concern regarding the direction the Auburn mayor and council seem to be pointing toward when it comes to funding different aspects of city government.

Five or six years ago we started the fire authority so the City could get out from under the over commitment of City funds toward fire support. I believe that removed several million dollars from the general fund while costing the average household $60 per year.

Management of the fire department moved from the entire City Council to a select few, and we are now making funding commitments on a five-year basis that does not reflect changes to the local economy.

Now the City is thinking of doing something similar with parks. In the words of councilman John Holman, as stated in the Reporter, the bottom line "is that taxes would go up 75 cents per thousand" of home evaluation. On a $250,000 house that would be an additional $187. I do not like the idea of a tax increase at this time.

More importantly, I don't like the concept of the council moving away from direct control of the budget. When we elect people to the council it is with the expectation that they will learn the importance of each portion of city government, discover the nuances of each department and determine what the distribution of monies should be among those departments.

As years pass, that distribution would vary depending on the situation at the moment. In fact, I would expect that decisions would be made to change that distribution somewhat every year. I want every member of the council to be a part of all those decisions, and I do not like the idea of five-year commitments that ignore economic changes.

If our council members do not want to be a part of all decisions, then I think we should create a real park district like Tacoma, run by separately elected officers and give them total budget authority and direct control over their own employees in number and salary; not a paperwork entity created just to generate income.

– Dan Shields

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