Marion County Sheriff Makes "Bold" Proposal
The Marion County Sheriff, Ed Dean, says bold action is needed to secure public safety and reduce costs.
In a letter, Tuesday, addressed to the Marion County Commission Chairperson, Barbara Fitos, the Sheriff made a formal proposition to combine the two largest budgeted departments in the county: the Sheriff Department and Fire Rescue.
The consolidation could potentially save taxpayers money, according to the letter. It reads, "In the face of declining revenues, bold action is needed to secure public safety by reducing duplicative and unnecessary overhead costs thus ensuring sufficient funding for essential law enforcement and fire service protection."
The idea behind the proposal would create an umbrella under which both departments would operate. They would combine resources like training, accounting, 911 communications, information technology and public information.
The Sheriff's proposal first calls for a blue-ribbon task force of 10 volunteers who would determine, by January, if and how the move would benefit the county.
South Florida's Broward County consolidated their Sheriff and Fire Rescue departments in 2003. Marion County plans on using them as a model.
In an over-the phone interview with the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Chief of Department, Joseph R. Lello, he told TV 20 the consolidation has been, "Excellent." He said it has allowed for better communication, response efficiency, cost reduction and comradery. "We are just one team," Lello said.
Marion County Commissioners will discuss the proposal in further detail next week.
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