Golf or Firefighters Part II
For the second time in as many days, Lexington's citizens have been placed at increased risk from the city's choice to "brownout" fire protection services. From today's Herald Leader:
A fire on Sheridan Drive on Thursday burned unchecked for several minutes, destroying a family's kitchen, because the nearest fire engine had temporarily been taken out of service.
It took seven minutes for firefighters from Station 20, about 2½ miles away, to get to the scene, officials said. Station 12, which is less than a half-mile away, was unoccupied due to a "brownout."
The delayed response was the second incident in two days that drew attention to the practice of brownouts, periods when the city takes fire engines out of service for hours or days to save money.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government has made a policy choice that brownouts of fire protective services are an effective way to save money.
They have also continued to place a priority on operating five public golf courses at a significant loss.
In 2011, Lexington golf operations budgeted $4.36 million worth of expenses while receiving $2.50 million in revenues, totaling a deficit of $1.86 million. In 2011, 88,706 rounds were played on Lexington-owned golf courses. That's a subsidy of $21 every time a golfer teed-up. Eighty-eight thousand times.
These golf courses are operated continuously year-round, rain or snow, never closed or "browned out".
The annual budget is the ultimate statement of policy priorities. If Lexington's mayor and city council wish to prioritize public safety, they have an opportunity to demonstrate it in the 2013 budget.