To the editor:
Fort Myers Beach voters have a big decision coming this Nov. 2. Many folks will not give it much thought because how important is local election? The answer is below.
I am running for Fire District Commissioner Seat 5 and want the voters to be armed with the truth and the facts. I say this, as anytime a standing commissioner or candidate mentions fiscal responsibility, the other commissioners or candidates pull the "how can you put a price on a life?" card. This implies that if anyone thinks about cutting costs/expenses-- we will have to increase response times or let some fireman go.
This is simply hogwash (you may prefer a stronger word), not true no matter your terminology. Over the recent past we have enjoyed high property values and therefore high property taxes. Those high property taxes meant we had a nice bank account to draw from. The days of free-spending need to come to a close. We are on a steady course for bankruptcy -- the ship must be turned, to put a nautical spin on this. This is the answer to the first question above. We need a new direction.
Take a look at your property tax bill. The single largest item relates to the fire district. The good news is that FMB enjoys one of the best fire departments anywhere with incredibly good response times. Our department is well-trained, well-equipped and motivated. In the past most proposed budget items were more or less rubber-stamped. If the expenses were questioned it would only be the minority of the board and their points were quickly dismissed as an attempt to curtail services.
Back to the hogwash issue, we must question all expenditures and temper spending. The same group of commissioners that basically controlled the checkbook had little or no budget background. A financial background is not a necessity for this job, but it will serve better than having a firefighter background-- we already have a great staff to handle that part of the business. Regardless, having the best firefighters will be a moot point if we have no money to fund the department.
Why am I a good candidate for this commissioner seat? I am a graduate of The College for Financial Planning and a Certified Financial Planner. I also have a degree in mathematics from San Diego State University. While in the USAF (I am a retired Lt. Colonel), I dealt with multi-million dollar budgets. Later on I was a financial consultant to a major civil service union. I was also a board member for a major San Francisco Bay Area credit union. In all of these capacities I dealt with budgets and, in some cases, unions. These are two of the areas that need addressing in FMB.
I will also be at the "Commotion by the Ocean" at the city council chambers on Oct. 14. This is a public forum and I will be going over some of my plans to reduce spending. The space here does not permit a detailed plan or outline for saving money, but email me and I will send you a brief summary of some of my cost cutting plans. Again, none of those involve changing the service we have now or letting personnel go.
Please consider voting for me on the 2nd for Fire District Council Seat Number 5.
Ted Schindler II
Fort Myers Beach