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Fire department mergers could cut taxes in Detroit area

Counties around Detroit, Michigan, are looking for ways to cut taxes. Lately, the fire departments have been asking for tax increases so that they can keep the firemen that they have on the payroll, rather than slashing jobs. Economic times have been hard in the area as of late, and laying off more workers is only going to make things worse and potentially put people at risk if the department cannot retain enough people to provide excellent services. Local residents have grown tired of the tax increases and asked them to stop.

One result that is being explored is the idea of mergers between some of the departments. This would consolidate their resources and give them a chance to work together, rather than all needing their own funding. Right now, a study has been proposed to see if a merger would really be the right solution.

This is not a new idea in the area. The cities of Westland, Inkster, Wayne and Garden City have already undergone a merger so that the dispatching services are centralized for the police and the fire departments. According to the mayor of Westland, this has worked very well, and the transition has been quite smooth. Cases like this show those in other counties and cities that there are solutions beyond just increasing the amount of taxes on the public. All cases are different, but this is clear evidence that it can work for government-run organizations.

When a merger is taking place, the legal side of the entire operation needs to be considered. Not only do state and federal laws have to be checked to make sure that the merger itself is legal, but the people involved need to consider all of the legal changes and obligations that are going to come up when two or more departments do merge.

Source: The Detroit News, "Mergers, consolidations are gaining ground" No author given, Mar. 17, 2014

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