County to explore unified fire service


Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:24 p.m.

Alachua County may again broach the idea of creating a consolidated fire service with Gainesville and the small cities as a way to cut costs.

At Tuesday's County Commission meeting, Commissioner Lee Pinkoson said the county should consider a unified service and begin discussing it with the cities.

Pinkoson said the difficult financial situation in which the county and cities find themselves makes this an ideal time to explore the idea, which has been studied several times in the past.

"People say that consolidation only occurs when there is a crisis. This may be the catalyst," Pinkoson said.

The suggestion drew support from Commissioner Rodney Long, a longtime advocate of a fire merger. The county will contact Gainesville and the small cities to gauge interest and possible set up a meeting.

State-mandated tax revenue caps have forced counties and cities to cut their budgets, and future cuts are likely. Meanwhile, costs for fire service continue to rise.

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