False Emergencies, Real Dollars
Mayor Cicilline has repeatedly expressed concern for the burden of the taxpayer. I’m sure I speak for taxpayers everywhere when I say “thanks”.
My question is, does his concern manifest itself anyplace other than the expired firefighters’ contract?
Let’s be clear. I’m the first to ask for a fair contract between municipality and valued public worker. Commenter and firefighter advocate Tom Kenney said something nice under this post. Loathe though I am to introduce a slightly discordant note, even temporarily, he probably wouldn’t be too happy about my likely stance on the terms of the contract now in contention between the mayor and Local 799.
At the same time, the budget for the Providence Fire Department is 6.5% of the city’s total budget (FY 2008, PDF ). Does the other 93.5% of the budget get the exacting attention that the Fire Department has received, lately and for the last five years?
What got me thinking about the bigger budget picture is this nonsense, far from the first such incident reported by Michael Morse at Rescuing Providence. More important than dollar cost is the potential human cost of such a diversion of resources. Did someone wind up more seriously injured or worse while
Rescue Taxicab One was attending to this woman? At the risk of stating the obvious, public services are provided for use, not abuse and for need, not greed. This woman and everyone who has done likewise should get an invoice – a complete invoice, labor and equipment – for the ride.
Now we have to ask: is this sort of thing going on with other city services? Are city ambulances called like taxicabs reflective of how the city – more specifically, the tax dollar – is managed overall?
Kudos to the mayor for his extreme concern about the firefighters new contract. At the risk, however, of sounding a tad ungrateful (really, I’m not), every budget dollar counts, not just the dollars expended on a department that accounts for 6.5% of the city’s budget. And a dollar saved from an abused city service is a dollar that can go back into the budget … or, in the most dire case, back into the taxpayer’s wallet.