Parkland to be part of fire service regionalization talks

The Parkland City Commission has authorized City Manager Caryn Gardner-Young to meet her counterparts in Coral Springs, Margate and Coconut Creek to discuss a proposal for an independent study to determine if regionalization of fire services is an idea worth following.

“Full-fledged regionalization: I kind of doubt Coral Springs will let that happen,” said Commissioner Dave Rosenof, who attended a recent meeting between city officials from the four cities on the issue. “Regionalization may only mean ‘closest unit response.’ It is important that we have a seat at the table.”

Vice Mayor Mark Weissman said he didn’t want the city to spend money on the study unless the city manager came back and told the Commission that this would benefit Parkland. Commissioner Jared Moskowitz thought otherwise.

“If there is going to be a study, we can’t say that we won’t participate,” Moskowitz said. “However, if Coral Springs is not putting any money toward this, then we shouldn’t spend a dollar.”

“We are a contract city,” Mayor Michael Udine said, referring to the arrangement by which Coral Springs provides the city fire and EMS services. “There are other vendors we would theoretically purchase services from.”

The discussion between the four cities was the result of an earlier proposal for the creation of the Northwest Broward Independent Fire District. The bill does not have the blessings of either Coral Springs or Coconut Creek, but Margate voted in favor.

Coral Springs city officials, while opposing the creation of a fire district, are in favor of finding out if regionalization would benefit the city.

“I am adamant that a conversation has to take place; our voters want that to happen,” Vice Mayor Tom Powers said when the fire district proposal came up for discussion. “The voters want to see a quick response. I don’t believe an independent taxing district is the answer per se, but I want to bring everybody to the table. I will never settle for less than what we have, but maybe there are resources that we can share.”

Commissioner Larry Vignola said the city could possibly save money by being a part of the proposed district. “We will be able to share expenses with other communities. I want the conversation to continue. For people in need of fire or EMS services, the color of the fire truck does not matter.”

“I am extremely proud of our fire department, but I am willing to sit at the table and listen,” Commissioner Vince Boccard said. “If regionalization of fire services is the best possible scenario for our residents, I will be in favor of it.”

“The most important thing to me as a representative of my citizens in Coral Springs is their safety and providing the services that they need,” Gold said at the joint meeting of the four cities. “I’m not ready to sign onto anything except for increasing the safety of the lives in my city. If the four cities can work together, that would be great. But I don’t want to sacrifice service.”

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/fl-cspf-fire-0329-20120402,0,2915677.story?track=rss

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