The subject of term limits has been a point of discussion in the editorial section of this newspaper of late, and I agree with the opinion recently given in favor of keeping limits in place for the Grand Lake Fire Protection District (GLFD) — but I’d like to take the discussion one step further.
The reasons given for eliminating term limits are to retain experienced leadership in hard-to-fill board positions when openings become available. While the discussion has focused on the inability to fill positions on the one hand, and the necessity of reducing concentrations of power on the other, no one has asked the vital question — does Grand Lake need a full-service fire department and EMS service in the first place?
Perhaps a lack of public interest in the Grand Lake Fire District stems from a perceived lack of need for the department. Regardless of who sits on the board, the district enjoys the fruits of taxpayer dollars. From the perspective of citizens who pay for the services of the district, it matters not who runs the district or how competent they are; the bill always comes due.
Grand County currently has so many taxpayer funded services from its various districts and departments, many of those services are duplicated. Why does Grand Lake provide EMS service when the county already has that service in place anyway? Could those services be eliminated, and equipment be sold, with the attendant reduction in taxpayer burden? Could the board, in its fiduciary interest to the taxpayer, look at the actual fire protection needs of the community to see if they are over-funded?
Driving into Grand Lake presents a stark irony. The behemoth fire department filled with glistening, unused toys sits imposingly across the street from a shuttered elementary school. If that doesn’t leave Grand Lake’s leadership needs severely wanting, I don’t know what does.