Posts Tagged reports suggests consolidation in DuPage County

Consolidation of fire districts in DuPage County

The Daily Herald has an article about talk of consolidating fire districts in DuPate County:

DuPage County Board candidate Jeremy Custer says county officials are “moving too fast” to consolidate fire districts and fire departments. But his opponent in the Nov. 4 election — District 4 incumbent Grant Eckhoff — insists he’s already waited five years to see progress made on the fire consolidation issue.

Both candidates have lauded DuPage’s efforts to explore consolidating local units of government as a way to save taxpayers money.

Custer, however, claimed this week that county officials have been putting undue pressure on fire protection districts and fire departments to consider consolidation. Earlier this year, a group of mayors and fire chiefs suggested that firefighting agencies in the county voluntarily work together to save money and improve service.

Custer said that plan by the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference Fire Services Stakeholders group doesn’t need agencies merging to be successful.

Eckhoff insists consolidation is inevitable because every government entity in DuPage is dealing with budget challenges. “The person who says we’re going too fast doesn’t ever want us to do it,” said Eckhoff, who has been publicly pushing for fire consolidation since 2009. In order to keep existing levels of fire protection and emergency medical services, Eckhoff said there wouldn’t be a reduction in the number of firefighters if two departments are merged. Taxpayers would save money because there wouldn’t be a need for separate fire chiefs, finance departments, human resources departments and legal teams. He said administrative positions would be reduced through retirements and attrition.

Still, Eckhoff acknowledges that consolidation ideas have received pushback from some chiefs. “We knew some people didn’t want to do it,” he said. “If people wanted to do it, Illinois wouldn’t have more units of government than any state in the country. But the bottom line is, we should do it.”

Custer said the fire chiefs he’s heard from are concerned with the direction Eckhoff is taking. “They fear that this is going to be a march toward cutting head count and lowering the quality of service that the residents are used to getting,” Custer said.

If elected to the county board, Custer said he would pursue “a more deliberate and more thoughtful process” — not a push to consolidate for the sake of making it happen.

thanks Ron

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Consultant urges consolidation among DuPage County Fire Districts

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a consultant’s recommendation that several DuPage County fire districts and municipal fire departments should consolidate services.

Fire departments in DuPage County should consider consolidating or sharing services as a way to save taxpayer money, a consultant recommended today.

The recommendation was made by the firm Crowe Horwarth in the latest round of audits of DuPage County agencies whose members are appointed by the County Board chairman.

But Crowe Howarth expanded its reach on the topic of fire district consolidation to include not only the county-appointed districts but all fire departments in the county, including those operated by municipalities.

“Consolidation, shared services, and best practices discussions should include all districts and municipalities providing fire protection service within the county,” the audit report says. “The majority of these bodies were not within the scope of this (audit); however, significant county-wide savings can be achieved through such efforts, and further study is necessary.”

County Board member Grant Eckhoff, R-Wheaton, has spent three years pressing for consolidation of the county’s fire protection districts.

“There is too much government,” Eckhoff said. “We simply cannot continue to afford the services we have at the same taxes, and if we don’t find better ways to deliver local, county and state services, taxes are going to go up.”

Cronin called the fire districts “one of our best opportunities to achieve consolidation at the local level.”

Of the nine districts whose members are appointed by the County Board chairman, six are “paper” districts with no infrastructure that instead collect property taxes and contract with neighboring fire departments for fire protection and emergency medical services.

Many serve unincorporated areas.

The entire article which also looks into the DuPage Airport Authority and DuPage Emergency Telephone System Board can be found HERE.

thanks Chris

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