Are we better as three or one?
That’s the question we’ll have to answer in the South Shore when it comes to fire consolidation.
The Public Policy Forum weighs in on the issue in a detailed study commissioned by South Milwaukee, Cudahy and St. Francis released this morning. Here is the press release. From it …
Three consolidation scenarios are presented for consideration, which differ based on minimum staffing levels at each station location. It is assumed that under each scenario, the consolidated department would have identical governance, command and administrative structures, as well as the same apparatus and equipment. In addition, it is assumed that one of Cudahy’s two fire stations could be eliminated under each of the scenarios, so that the three cities collectively would be served by three stations – one each in Cudahy, South Milwaukee and St. Francis.
“Our fiscal analysis estimates that the impacts of a consolidated department could range from a collective added annual operating cost of $67,000 for one of the three staffing models, to annual operating savings ranging from $248,000 to $890,000 for the other two,” says Forum President Rob Henken. “In addition, under each of the scenarios, we estimate that the three cities would save more than $1.7 million in vehicle replacement costs over the next seven years because of the ability to shrink the size of the collective vehicle fleet.”
Obviously, this is a very complex issue that requires further additional examination and debate before any action is taken — or not taken, for that matter. Should we consolidate at all? If so, what should that look like?
My take is consistent: I am open to consolidation, as long as we can save money while also delivering the same level (or an enhanced level) of service. These options may deliver on that … but the devil will be in the details.
I promise to continue to get as informed on possible on this issue and act in the best interest of the city. I also pledge to think about this holistically, not forgetting that we also did a dispatch consolidation study a year ago with its own set of recommendations.
Whatever happens, I will keep you informed along the way. The community must be involved in this debate, and I encourage you to make your voices heard.