Monday, June 20, 2011
Point/Counterpoint: Municipalities Save Money Through Public Safety Consolidation
Cities find combining police and fire services saves money. (Detroit News, 6/20/2011)
Excerpt: Experts in municipal management say combining police and fire can save money and improve service, if done right.
Leonard Matarese, a research director at the International City/Council Management Association, said a public safety department is more efficient. "When you have a major event — a police or fire event — you end up with a larger group of qualified people to handle it," said Matarese, who has worked in several states as a police chief, city manager and a public safety director.
He cautioned that with training and equipment expenditures, a municipality could incur extra expenses — at first.
"But you have to look at this long-term," he said. "It saves money. There's no question about it. If a city can achieve a 5 to 10 percent savings, it's significant."
Police and fire costs can translate to as much as 75 percent of a municipality's budget. Kalamazoo, with about 75,000 residents, is the largest city in the state with a public safety department.