Considering the past few articles regarding Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue (SVFR) and Western Lane Ambulance District (WLAD), I feel the need to provide some reinforced clarification on a few of the topics reported.
First, SVFR has a balanced budget and is not short of money. Additionally, we will not need to borrow $500,000.
What was stated during board meetings is that, because SVFR is waiting to receive the reimbursement of grant and wildland fire response money owed to us, we might need to use a line of credit until that money arrives.
July through November is the leanest time of the year for us because we receive no tax revenue until mid-November. We rely on what is left in the bank from the previous year until tax money arrives.
We accounted for this in our budget, but some of the money we were relying on is money that will be reimbursed. Unfortunately, we have very little control on when we receive reimbursements, despite our best efforts.
During the Aug. 30 special joint meeting of the two boards, the office manager reported that after continued work, SVFR’s end of year financial status appears to be much stronger than earlier predicted. If the fire district does need to utilize a line of credit, it will be no more than $300,000 dollars and will be a temporary measure until reimbursements arrive.
We experienced a similar situation last year when the Lane County worker strike extended the time before we began to receive tax revenue.
The other area I want to clarify is that there is no uncertainty regarding the continuation of the IGA between the two districts because of the financial status of the fire district or by me accepting another position.
As stated above, the fire district has no money issues. The fact that I have accepted another position will not affect the IGA because both districts have a strong team in place and clear set of goals identified in their strategic plans.
Additionally, both districts have a strong group on their boards of directors who provide excellent oversight and care deeply about service to our community.
As with every position in both districts, the job of the Chief/Director is important, but work will not stop because it is temporarily vacant or filled with an interim person.
The formation of the IGA Committee was intended to strengthen the IGA by ensuring both districts have an equal voice when making decisions that affect both organizations.
This is not to say that either of the districts have been unfairly represented, because they haven’t. Fortunately, the two boards have worked very well together over the past two-and-half years and the creation of the IGA Committee is the next logical step in working together.
The IGA Committee Charter outlines the responsibilities of the committee and clarifies its purpose. The committee has been meeting and working on the charter for two months. Both the charter and its work have been discussed at several board meetings.
Finally, I want to ensure that in no way do I or other members of the administrative team believe that people who served in financial management positions for either district in the past did not do good work. With the help of a consultant, we have learned that the financial management tools and techniques used in the past do not meet the needs of today.
Our struggle has been realizing this.
As a result, we have updated our tools and are using techniques that meet our current needs. People who have served in these positions worked very hard and provided valuable service to our community. In fact, we would not be where we are today had it not been for the work and dedication of those people.
Like any growing organization, we must occasionally change some of the things we do.