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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on April 8, 2009 9:20 PM.

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The Role of Local Government

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You're at home enjoying the evening. Suddenly you start feeling the pangs of a heart attack. Do you call 911 or check your bank account first?

If you answered bank account, it's not because you're worried about a hospital bill, it's because you're worried about a 911 bill.

There are certain things that each level of government is suppose to be responsible for.

Federal government should handle national security and major infrastructure (interstate system, air traffic).

State government should handle state security (multi-parish, counties for those of you who live in Rio Linda, crimes), state infrastructure, and higher ed.

Local government handles local security (crime), fire, small roads, first response (medical emergencies), sanitation, and primary/secondary education.

Notice how the closer the government is to its citizens, the more responsibility it has. Except in large cities, I would bet most people could go knock on the front door of their local mayor or council member. It gets a little harder for your state representatives and all but impossible for your Congressional delegation.

Now that we can the responsibilities of the three levels of government mapped out, we need to examine what's wrong with the city of Santa Rosa, Ca. They obviously are spending taxpayer monies on things they probably shouldn't be.

The City Council is now looking at a proposal to charge residents $350 to have city paramedics show up at their door. As first responders, this is one of the basic services that local government should cover.

To even be contemplating this proposal means the city leaders have managed to squander money on services or other projects that were unneeded.

If this proposal passes, will the 911 operators be forced to ask for a credit card number before they can dispatch the paramedics?

This is a total outrage and the citizens of Santa Rosa have only themselves to blame. They elected a city council that forgot what the primary role of local government is.

My only fear is that the failure in Santa Rosa has already spread to Washington, D.C.

As a side note, I live in a small city (actually, I live right outside of city limits) that has a 100% volunteer fire department (Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department). I've been in conversations with the Mayor where he has stated that under the current tax base, the city could not afford a paid fire department.

To maintain a high fire rating with insurance companies so that insurance rates don't go sky high, volunteer fire departments are required to have 2-3 times as many firefighters respond to a single fire than a paid fire department (this is to ensure there is always someone available to relieve another firefighter).

The Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department gets some monies through local taxes to pay for equipment, but the majority of their funds are raised through an annual fair. Even with the city expanding in terms of housing and where those houses are being built, forcing the building of new fire stations, the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department is providing outstanding service to the residents of Thibodaux.


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