Saturday, January 14, 2012

Orland Fire Protection District to explore consolidation opportunities

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Orland Fire Protection District to explore consolidation opportunities

Orland District – Orland Fire Protection District Board President Jim Hickey said he will ask the board at the next meeting to consider opportunities to consolidate fire services with neighboring communities.

Hickey, who has been advocating consolidation as one method of reducing costs to taxpayers, said that he will ask fellow board members to examine the possibility of providing contracted fire services to Palos Fire District residents.

Palos Fire District officials announced plans to close one fire house and eliminate first responder staff because of budget constraints.

Hickey said that the Orland Fire Protection District should explore opportunities where they could consolidate and thereby expand and improve fire safety services for both districts.

“It’s just an idea. But I think we need to talk about it and see if there is an opportunity for the Orland Fire Protection District to takeover fire services for the Palos Fire District,” Hickey said.

“There are a lot of issues involved including if there should be a merger of the districts, or should it be contracted out, and we’d have to carefully examine the union contracts to see if this is even permitted. But, regardless, it’s thinking out of the box. In today’s economy, we must look at everything. We owe it to the taxpayers.”

Hickey said he will ask the Orland Fire Protection District board at its next meeting Tuesday, January 24, to convene a special Task Force to examine all of the issues.

“Consolidation is something government has to consider across the board, not just in the Orland Fire Protection District,” Hickey said.

“The governor of Illinois is doing it. Officials across the country are doing it. We should be vigilant for opportunities to reduce the tax burden on our taxpayers especially in today’s economy.”

Hickey said he plans to make a motion to create the Task Force at the board meeting.

“This is an idea that we should all be talking about, openly, above board and in public,” Hickey said.

“I definitely an open to any suggestions from the public. They made it loud and clear in the last election that they want this board to address the issue of spending and that is what we have entrusted to do and will continue to do. We have to do it the right way and within the parameters of the existing union and employee wage agreements and contracts.”

Hickey said that Palos Fire District is currently responsible for Sandburg High school.

“Orland has an important stake in what happens with the Palos Fire District,” Hickey said.