Excerpts from an editorial in theChicagotribune.com:

As the City of Highwood, Illinois investigates the opportunity to supplement their fire department with personnel from a private firefighting firm, they want to assure the community that safety and protection will not be compromised.

City Manager Scott Coren cites revenue and a small tax base less than a square mile in size to draw from as the biggest factors in asking private firms for proposals, stating, “Highwood must continue to keep down the cost of our current services in order to have enough money to improve upon city infrastructure such as streets and sidewalk repairs.” Mayor Charles Pecaro added, “With the uncertain financial situation in the State of Illinois, we need to operate a sustainable city, keeping in mind the high costs of pensions and workers compensation.”

The contracting of fire department personnel joins other services such as snow plowing, maintaining the grass on many streets and public parks, building reviews and inspections, payroll, financial planning, fueling services, police dispatching and more, that are filled by contractors.

“Outsourcing city-wide needs has proven highly effective in the past. We now look at the potential to deliver our fire services safely and efficiently through contractors,” says Coren. “We will control the requirements for hiring and ensure all contractual employees have the proper certifications.”

With the money saved, Highwood can begin to address immediate infrastructure needs such as the fixing of city roads and sidewalks. “We’ve already had to increase taxes to address these issues in the past,” says Coren. “Not making changes like the one we are faced with now will only result in additional tax increases. We must be efficient with our limited tax dollars.”

thanks Chris