Leaders in both towns are expected to decide during their September council meetings whether to take the steps that will save about $426,278, or one-third, total from their budgets by eliminating nine public safety positions. They discussed the proposal this past week at Lookout Mountain, Tenn., City Hall.
Mike Tallent, assistant director of Municipal Technical Advisory Service, studied the organization and daily operations of the cities’ public safety departments and weighed the benefits and disadvantages of combining services.
“The current two stations would be retained, because they provide almost optimum locations to all parts of both towns,” he said.
Tallent proposes having 14 fulltime public safety officers and 15 volunteer firefighters, who would receive partial compensation.
Firefighting service would be supplemented with 15 volunteers, who would be required to spend the night at one of the fire stations two nights per month, he said.
Tallent said the combined departments should be called Lookout Mountain without a state added to the title.
Mayor Bob Clark, of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., said the cities are considering implementing the plan in 2006.
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“If we do legislation in January, that is assuming we get everything done by then, the earliest to do this is July 1, 2005,” Tallent said.
Tallent’s proposes cutting the combined workforce by nine police and fire officers, or 39 percent.
In 2003 Lookout Mountain, Ga., spent $400,447 for public safety, and the Tennessee town spent $817,516, excluding costs for dispatchers.
“A safe projection for financial savings would be 35 percent of $1,217,963, or $426,278, total for both municipalities combined, or $127,886 for Lookout Mountain, Ga., and $298,401 for Lookout Mountain, Tenn.,” Tallent said.
“These dollar amounts will vary as future budgets vary, but the overall percentage of savings should remain constant,” he said.
Cutting staff will not decrease the departments’ ability to respond to emergencies, he said.
“With this design, the minimum response level to any fire call would be five (personnel) both day and night without call backs or volunteers responding,” he said. “The maximum response without call backs or volunteers responding would be six (personnel) during the day and night.”
The committee that worked on the proposal over the past year included Bob Huffaker, Ed Chapin and Malcolm Daniell as Tennessee representatives. Bill Glascock, Ed Taliferro and Ian Hamilton represented the Georgia town