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.


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