Sunday, November 16, 2014

Game of Thrones: Consolidating the City of Middletown Fire Districts?

Middletown Fire Deputy
Chief Steven J. LaRosa, EFO MPA
Middletown used to have 2 high schools. Now we have 1. There also used to be police sub stations, now the department is under one roof. Today we have 3 fire districts, but the debate is still lively as to whether these too could/should be consolidated. Residents receive an annual tax bill with a municpal tax (board of education budget is factored into this) and depending on which district you live in one of 3 possible rates - South Fire, Central Fire, or of Westfield fire in decending order of costliness based on annual budgeted cost of services.Some feel that the board of education should be a separate district tax so that taxpayers can more easily see how much of their bill goes to education. 

Consolidate: Below is a link of a these written by Deputy Chief of Middletown Fire District Steven LaRosa where he discusses in depth the consolidation of Middletown Fire Districts Westfield, Sout Fire & Middletown into one district. La Rosa outlines a comphrehensive strategy and cites research as to why this strategy is most beneficial to Middletown. The paper is entitled RUNNING AHEAD: Consolidating the City of Middletown Fire Districts. The paper is published on the U.S. Fire Administration's official website as a submission to the National Fire Academy training program. La Rosa has been a firefighter with the city of Middletown since 1983 and was made deputy chief in June 2014 & also an adjunct professor at the Connecticut Fire Academy.

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo47982.pdf
Westfield Fire
Deputy Chief Darrel Ponzio

Don't Consolidate: Current Deputy Cheif Darrel Ponzio wrote an essay six years ago, posted October 2008 on the old Westfield Fire Dept. website stating his concerns about consolidation of departments & and what he claimed "encroachment." Ponzio's main arguement is that the Fire Districts are autonomous according to a 1930's state statute &amp enacting three taxing districts; there is little cost savings to districts with different needs. In a quote linked to Ponzio's post, Councilman Bauer concurred on the issue regarding statuatory regulations & ultimately it was each districts decision, but encouraged each to further study the issue. Ponzio states Westfield's milrate would increase with the consolidation, because unlike the Central and South Districts, Westfield has a small full time crew in proportion to its volume of volunteers, while the other two districts more crew and less volunteers. Read his reasoning can be read here: http://www.westfieldfire.net/2008_09_01_archive.html

Approximately 18 monthes ago the Common Council voted to consolidate several city departments. The cost savings have yet to be presented to the Common Council; a council study is supossedly "in the works." 

Could the Fire Department consolidation be back on the table?
Good idea or bad idea?
 What do you think? Tell us in comments!

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