SARC board pleads; the public pays

The SARC board of commissioners is now broadcasting doom and gloom before the district’s voting public when pleading for support for the proposed February 2015 M&O levy. Chairman (Frank) Pickering is quoted as saying, “It was time to act, so we acted.”

Actually, it was time to act at least seven years ago but the board ignored the issue. I made presentations to the board during 2007, 2009 and 2011 wherein I illustrated the trend of financial decline and the need for a short-to-long business plan. After each presentation the board’s response was, “We are OK,” “It’s the recession,” “You are being an alarmist,” and “SARC is not a business, so why should we need a plan?”

Commissioner Jan Richardson has been admonishing the board for over two years in an attempt to alert them to impending financial doom and to get them off their collective posteriors. Unfortunately, he also has been ignored as well as being termed a pariah.

Now the board members are wringing their hands and pleading for the taxpayers to bail them out of their collective fiscal incompetence. A reasonable person should have some idea that, after losing money for seven successive years, something should be done to put its business on a sound financial basis.

Rather than invest in systematic equipment and facility upgrades, a former director with concurrence of successive board majorities was fond of saying, “We should keep our reserves for a rainy day.” Well, fellow taxpayers, a deluge will be shortly forthcoming. So, what is the plan? Mr. Pickering says Plan A is to go to the public trough for a six-year property tax levy. He says Plan B is to close SARC. Ridiculous! This is constipated thinking.

I offer the following. Plan C — Continue the superbly monumental efforts of current Executive Director Scott Deschenes of initiating innovative programs to encourage public usage of SARC. Plan D — Look to the cost driver, namely, the pool itself. If the pool comprises 60-70 percent of the operating expenses, consider closing at least the large pool portion of the facility. Sad as that may be, it is a viable alternative. If that does not result in fiscal salvation, then Mr. Pickering’s Plan B might be the ultimate solution much to the detriment of our community.

And, for heaven’s sake, formulate a methodical business plan. Without one you do not know where you are going and certainly will not know when you get there.

Bill Black is a Sequim resident and was a SARC board member from 2000-2007.)


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