April 27, 2007
A group hired to consider the idea of merging the Albemarle County and Charlottesville Fire Departments recommends against the consolidation.
After almost a year of analysis, The Matrix Consulting Group is recommending that the Charlottesville Fire Department, Albemarle County Fire Department and the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad not consolidate their resources.
In a report totaling nearly 250 pages, the group says that consolidating all three of the area's fire and rescue units would actually end up costing taxpayers more money in the long run while possibly decreasing service.
During a news conference this morning, the chiefs from both the city and the county fire departments announced the findings of the study. The report outlined several differences between the departments, like retirement and benefit packages, that if consolidated would cost an additional $688,000. Both chiefs say the report showed how well all of the agencies work together.
"Although the consolidation report did not recommend consolidation, it identified a number of areas that the city and the county worked on a cooperative manner together," said Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston.
"One of the most important things that the study validates is the cooperative spirit that has been in place and will continue to be in place," said Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner.
The study does lay out several different ways the departments could cooperate better, like creating one Hazardous Materials Unit, that would make the departments more efficient.
The Matrix Consulting Group will next present the findings of the study to City Council and the Board of Supervisors. At that point, the two governing bodies will decide what, if any, policy changes will be made.
The cost of the study was $80,000, split equally between both the city and the county.