It’s done. The decision to have Deerfield’s fire rescue department operated by BSO was approved Tuesday evening. . After looking over the numbers and the agreement, I, who am very wary about giving the BSO control of over 50 percent of the city budget, think now that it was probably the right thing to do. Probably!
But, only time will tell; numbers aren’t everything. Most likely the commissioners think the same way, hoping against hope that they made the right choice.
In the agreement the city retains ownership of our fire stations and equipment which might make it possible to take back control if the BSO costs get out of line, however I wonder if after the 5 year contract is up whether any of the “equipment” we own but are letting BSO use will be in any condition to be useful. Maybe, I hope so, only time will tell.
This merger may well be the most important decision Deerfield Beach ever had to make. Do I think that there should be a referendum on the decision? Yes I do, but the city has a legal opinion that it is not necessary. Get two lawyers together and you will have two opinions. It would take a lawsuit to decide this.
I also think that there should have been meetings in all of the districts about the plan before the final decision. Ben Preston, newly elected District 2 commissioner voiced his disappointment that his district had no input into the decision making because Sylvia Poitier was suspended shortly after the beginning of the process.
This is the kind of highhanded decision making that years back, forced the OSOB to have a petition drive and referendum to amend the City Charter so that if the city wanted to lease or sell any city owned property worth more than $750,000 they would have to go to the voters in a referendum.
Everyone agrees that this is a very important decision. Everyone agrees that the commissioners are elected to represent what the residents want. What reason could there be not to share the unfolding of the plan and the projected savings and benefits?
Unfortunately, too many politicians get the idea that they know better than the voters who elected them, and that they can make decisions that are good for the city whether the residents agree or not. Their defense is that they are elected to do the will of the people and the people should let them do it. That is only valid, if the politicians actually know what the WILL of the people is. And in this case, without a referendum or at the very least city hall meetings sharing information, how could they know?
My guess is that the city residents would have, in view of the tanked economy, voted in favor of the merger, but we will never know.