By LINDA LOBECK
IRON MOUNTAIN - The consolidated services committee members from Iron Mountain City Council will be meeting this week to go over cost information and then hopefully meet for more discussions with a similar group on Kingsford City Council.
Iron Mountain Mayor Bruce Rosen had provided the council members with a sheet comparing current costs for both cities and what would happen once a consolidated police and fire department was in place.
"We want to look at what costs are right now to provide these services to each city and the projected cost for combining. We are still in discussions with Kingsford, but want our committee members to meet first before going back and getting together with Kingsford. I am hopeful we can make some gains on this," Rosen said.
Councilman Bob Moraska agreed noting that they have been trying to work with Kingsford since this would mean a considerable savings for both cities.
Councilman Colin Jacobetti thanked the members of the council who have been involved in this effort noting that this is something he hears a lot about from residents. They have told him they want this to happen.
"We need to keep moving forward. I don't understand why Kingsford is not interested in moving this along," Moraska said.
The information provided by Rosen showed that the current costs for Iron Mountain police and fire services is $2.9 million for the 14 police officers and 11 firemen.
In Kingsford, the costs are $1.7 million for the 17 public safety officers.
The costs reflect health insurance, retirement, base pay and overtime, Rosen said.
This total currently for both cities with 42 staff members is $4.6 million.
"The ratio of officers to citizens is 1 to 321, and the cost to each citizen for police and fire protection is $340 a year," Rosen said.
Projected costs, according to Rosen for combining the two cities would be for staffing 34 public safety officers at a cost of $3.4 million and a total annual savings of $1.2 million.
Iron Mountain's annual savings would be $720,000 and Kingsford's would be $480,000.
He added that the ratio of officers to citizens with the combined department would be 1 to 397 and the cost to each citizen for police and fire protection would be $251 a year.
"Within the next three years, both communities have eight officers retiring. Ideally, both communities would achieve dramatic savings through normal attrition. This model is based upon six cross-trained officers per shift using a four-shift rotation to reduce and control overtime and legacy costs," Rosen noted in his outline.
"When we consider the department retirements in both cities, the reduction of revenue sharing from the state, and our five-year budget projections, the mandate is clear. We must work with local units of government to achieve a stronger, more cost effective community," Rosen said.
He said that he did not even address the added savings that would be experienced in the form of other hard assets for the two cities that are currently duplicated, such as the fire trucks and squad cars.
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.