Nor should Barrie shoulder all the criticism of the controversial position in which he found himself.
The commissioners court and the city council must accept a healthy dose of blame in this because they just didn’t fully think through the arrangement before signing off on it.
It’s unimaginable for any government to hire law enforcement officers with an agreement that they can collect fines or speeding tickets on the spot and pocket the money in lieu of a paycheck. Without limits. Without the governing entity managing those funds collected.
In straight commission sales, it’s called, “Eat what you kill.” It’s not a model seen in government probably since England stopped licensing buccaneers to raid Spanish galleons.
There’s no wonder that businesses resented the fire marshal arrangement as designed here.
That, however, doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for a fire marshal and a good use for one in an office properly structured with a reasonable fee schedule that reflects the financial realities of this market. Barrie had said his fee structure was modeled after Kerrville and Kerr County, which has more than twice the per capita income with nearly double the population of Bee.
Should the county and city decide to revisit the position, for which there probably is a growing need, they should fund it themselves, set the appropriate fees and collect those and fines, pay the position as they would any other and set some parameters within the law with the input from businesses and the electorate.
In short, the fire marshal position as designed this first time was poorly structured and didn’t pass the public’s inspection.
– Jeff Latcham